Dominique Golden – Marionettes and Catholic Myths (Interview)

Dominique Golden, dressed up for a performance

Dominique Golden is a multidisciplinary artist, originally from Lancashire, in the North of England, and is now working and living in London. The first time I became aware of her work was through the “Familiar Machines” exhibition at Backlit Galleries in Nottingham in 2019 where an almost life-sized Madonna with an integrated structure that made it weep bloody tears was shown. Beside working in sculpture and drawing, Dominique also makes video art, writes and performs poetry, works with music and runs her own music label Pearl Home records.
The special circumstance of the ongoing pandemic has opened up the opportunity for us to meet online, and at the same time kept us from actually meeting face to face. But that didn’t stop us from getting into conversation.

Hello Dominique. Thank you so much for taking your time to answer my questions. Let’s start with facts and basics: Do you have a formal art education, and do you think that’s important at all?

Yes, I do have a formal education and without it, I would not have arrived at the art I practise now. Due to having grown up in a very loving but unartistic family, it has shaped and enabled my practise and personality. I would not have otherwise had access to the art world.
Growing up in St Helens at that time, for me, being an artist or even working in the arts was not really a career option. At school my careers advisor suggested I become a florist due to my obvious enthusiasm and dedication to creative lessons.

Luckily, my art teacher had suggested to my parents that I should go to art college. I was very keen to do this, so my path was set: I firstly went to the Gamble institute in St Helens, Lancashire for pre-foundation and foundation, and then went on to Leeds University Graphic Design, studying printmaking. And following this I was accepted to the RCA fine art printmaking where I completed my MA and fellowship which was 3 years in total.

In your statement on your website you mention “family” as a central topic of your work. What exactly do you mean by this? Are you referring to the family we grow up in, as in where we come from, or rather the core family we build for ourselves?

I am not exactly representing the family as such. All of my work is a self-portrait in a loose sense. I am addressing my position within my family and within the world at large.

I have a husband called Nik and 2 sons, who are 12 and 9 years old. I came to realise early on that as a parent you are controlled by your children. Therefore, there is a dance that occurs between family members. The dynamics move around the 4 of us as we all grow and develop into new figures due to the push and pull of each other; creating multiple selves at every stage.

Dominique Golden, The Art Bomb Factory, London 2018

Would you say you see your position in the world through your position in your family?

Recently I have represented myself in the image of Mary the Mother of God for performances of spoken word sound art and sculpture. Mary has been used throughout history as a template for all mothers. I want to combine this with the every-type woman, combine these traditional depictions and meanings and the idea of the domestic and worldly into my creative representation of the feminine.

But ultimately I’m not defined by my family.

Many of your drawings I find outright disturbing. Figures that have missing limbs or doubled features, sometimes limbs are twisted so that it seems to be bodies more than living people, and then some seem to be half animal… There’s an edginess to your drawings that doesn’t quite match the positive and comforting picture that’s often associated with motherhood.

For me, family both means comfort and conflict. A lot of my work has a psychological quality, and I address control in various states.
In my recent drawings, I have been focusing on the marionette figure which represents control and nature…

The animal aspect was a subject which I have worked with for many years and is prior to my recent myth building of children made of wood.
For example, I made a series with tigers that represented feminine lust. And I used sharks, indicating an archetypal personality type which only takes and does not give.

Dominique Golden, 2020

Marionettes and wood figures: Can you explain what interests you in them? You are drawing, not making them, right?

The subject matter of marionettes comes from an eclectic research pattern which incorporates among others Pinocchio, feminism, and what I call gender alternate birth rite.

The story of Pinocchio has always fascinated me because the mother is unnecessary, as the father Geppetto carves his son out of wood.

I paired this with the Catholic holy family. In this storyline, Joseph the carpenter is capable of singular child creation along-side the story of the virgin birth. This provides basis for intrigue about the origin of the son of God, and how this would shift the patriarchal control.

How would that shift patriarchal control, I don’t understand. If a man was birther of god wouldn’t that, if anything, strengthen his position?

Well, it refers to what I meant when I mentioned “gender alternate birth rite” and is a huge area of feminism and hard to describe in brief: In our male dominated society, child birth generates expectations of the role in society on women. In an alternate society as invented in the story of Pinocchio, this might turn and would mean that the notion of the house wife, or mother as primary carer would be broken down, perhaps men would become primary child carer’s, and in extension create a huge shift in society at large.

Vincent climbing through the window, Dominique Golden 2020

The drawing above is from this body of work?

The title is ‘Vincent climbing through the window’. Here, everything is made of wood and is a living thing. Therefore, everything is level in status, and everything is connected. Thus one’s actions affect everyone and everything around you, which refers back to the comment I made earlier: There’s a dance that occurs between family memers.
The drawing is also meant to represent a birth, the action of Vincent entering the home; this is also intended to echo the reversal of the gender reversal birth option as above.

That’s fascinating! – Do you currently work mainly with imagery? Is that the form you think it will stay in, or are these preparatory works? – It sounds like you have a lot of story developed, too, maybe it’ll end as a book?

I am currently making a series of drawing that are very defined in this thought process – so far I have only released them on instagram. But my plan is to make a wooden child – I’ve been collecting some driftwood for it.
I am also working on a design for a stain glass window
However, my next move which I hope to spend some time on is to make some more moving image work.

Dominique Golden, Collage from Difficult Birth Series 2019

So what is your interest in the story behind your art? Is the narrative that you explore part of your research only? Or does it become part of the art itself?

I use existing narrative as a mosaic. I patch together various themes which resonate with me and present them as images. I don’t tell stories as such, I retell pre-written text via image making and investigation of well known and not so well known tales.

My other interest in terms of the written word is poetry. During lockdown I created a poetry pamphlet about journeying into new pastures yet feeling like you want to stay at home. A lot of my work is hinged on periods of time that are rites of passage like when you change from child to adult, I.e. a combination of fear and sexual awakening. You can find it on my website when you click on publications.

Dominique Golden performing the Mary Fact File

‘The Mary Fact File’ was another publication I put together that filled in as many missing blanks from Mary the Mother of God’s recorded existence as I could find. I performed the fact file as a rap with a backing track and video animation whilst dressed as Mary. The fact file leaflet was passed around the audience so they could sing along.

You mentioned performance before. So, you are not mainly interested in narritive, rather in spoken poetry? You perform and make music too, right?

I would say I am interested in narrative in general. I have special interest in alternate timelines and alternate worlds. I have often made work which is in some way influenced by childhood fairy tales and ancient mythology.

And, Yes. I am interested in spoken word and sound art. Prior to having children I sang in a band called Jesus Licks, I still play the flute with COMA London which is an improvisation orchestra. We perform concerts in various venues in and around London. I wrote a lot of the material for Jesus Licks, and also composed scores for COMA which were performed via zoom during lockdown.

Myself and Nik run a DIY record label that release handmade vinyl by artists working in these formats. We also host concerts at home and present a radio show on Friday nights at 5.30pm. This is in order to show case our own sound art/music and spoken word as well as our friends and colleagues whom we share similar interest.

Any immediate plans for the future?

My current enthusiasm is tied up in making sound art for the radio show, I have been writing material and selecting work from our back catalogue. Also, the kids just started school again this week, so I am looking forward to seeing some shows! Just booked to see Aubrey Beardsley at the tate.

I have taken a break from drawing every day (to focus on the end of summer) now we are back to term time I will endeavour to make some moving images/animation of my drawings and create some graphic score also using animation. During lockdown I made a film for COMA London, which I will review as a stepping off point…

I am afraid, we are running out of space on this blog here. Maybe a last question: If someone wants to follow up on this and find out more about you and your art, where should they go or where should they click?

There’s my hompage(s)

From there you’ll find links to various other sites, for example my instagram stream, or my youtube channel.

My radio show can be found here every Friday at 5.30pm.

Thank you, Dominique!

All images used in this article are copyrighted by Dominique and have been used with her kind permission

New Work in Shadow Boxes

“Fabric of Motherhood”, three new prints/collages by H. Kurzke

Over the last couple of weeks I have been working with the topics of woven pattern and motherhood in print. When you have a new baby, you are surrounded by all kinds of different fabrics and weaves all with their own particular tactile quality. There’s the muslin used when burping (or lying down) a baby, the mollin in the crib, terry cloth everywhere, for towels, bibs, and wash cloths, the mull for navel dressing, the velvet of romber suits, and the coarse woven structure of baby carrying shawls. And – oh my god – the sudden onslaught of laundry. It’s a very fabric world, a new Mum is living in, and so I presented her in this world, a backdrop of fabric…

Fabric of motherhood, collage and print by H. Kurzke

To stress the idea of the Mum being surrounded by fabric, I thought of the tunnel books I made a long time ago. But the structure of a tunnel book is fairly mobile, and I saw this rather as something to put up on a wall or shelf than as a book to be handles, and thus wanted something in between a tunnel book and a simple 2D print. So I ordered in some shadow boxes to experiment…

In this first box above there’s a whole landscape of fabric that drapes around her.

From there I went maybe to the other extreme and just collaged the cut out drypoint onto the printed background. The woven impression comes from two overlapping prints, and an area where there’s just one of them, serves as a visual ground she’s standing on here.

From there I developed the idea to collage a bit more of a background landscape for her, indicating a cityscape in her background, but keeping to the fabric theme.

fabric of motherhood, print and collage by H. Kurzke

Both the 2nd and 3rd print are only one layer, rather than the full depth of the first with it’s many panels. Yet I feel the shadow box they are living in suits the topic and the collage.

I intent to keep working to this theme. I still have many ideas (and a bunch of half-finished prints), so you’ll probably see more of this series. It would be easier to keep going if I can sell some of them… I am going to list them in my folksy shop in the coming week.

If you would like to purchase one of them now, please contact me directly, they are £50 each, including the frame in the first case, optional frame (for a price reduction of course if you don’t need it) for the 2nd and 3rd. They are signed on the back.

fabric of motherhood 3, collage and print by H. Kurzke

Büchertiger Supplies Shop Update

Rolls of Yue Fung Button Linen Thread

Hello everyone! It’s been a while since you heard from me, and that’s because I have been super busy (as so often). At first I was busy with everything that came with the current coronavirus pandemic, specifically with turning from an artist and sole trader to a primary school teacher. For now this is the past, and I am in the middle of re-starting my shops and my business.

For the time being there will be three ways to shop from me

  1. By contacting me directly via email or otherwise, and buying directly from me. Information and a price list can be found on this website. Click on the top navigation bar on Supplies or on the link provided here. Because I don’t have to pay sales fees imposed by a third party platform, I can offer you slightly better conditions on my website, and for sales that can be worked out via bank transfer (from domestic, i.e. UK banks only), it gets even better, and you don’t ever have to pay shipping costs for those orders. PLUS you get much better bulk discounts on purchases of whole spools this way.
    I am working on getting catalogues and price lists for my prints and books up there, too. But this is work in progress at this time.
  2. By going through my Folksy Shop. The prices for items on Folksy are the same as when you go through me personally, but I do have to charge for shipping of larger items; and the bulk discounts I can offer are not quite as generous. This is the place where I also offer Büchertiger Studio and Press items. There’s not much online yet, I am working on it. – You are always welcome to send me an enquiry,
  3. By going through my Etsy Shop. This is the only placec where I offer my ebooks, because Etsy handles digital VAT for me.

Some costs have increased for me since I last had my shops open, and I am currently adapting some of my prices. – It will probably take the next week, if not the next two weeks until everything is listed and has the correct price attached. Be faster than I am and grab a bargain this weekend!

Asian Style Notebook

Things are Moving Again – Slowly

Did you know tigers hibernate? I didn’t before this year, but experience now has shown they occasionally do, at least the book tigers…

Inkle Weaving

Officially, the UK went into lockdown on 23rd of March (I closed shops a week earlier), and from 1st of June, lockdown eases were announced. Officially we are now out of lockdown even though, of course, security measures are still in place, and local authorities have the right to impose local lockdowns or other security measures. And, finally, on 1st of August shielding will end in England. Although we as a family have taken things much more slowly than we would have been officially allowed, and we are planning to for a while longer, Büchertiger is also slowly waking up from hibernation.

page from my sketchbook

The world seemed to split into two halves during lockdown: those for which a time of utter boredom started, and those who leapt into frantic, sleepless workload. I fell into the second half, and calling it a hibernation for my artwork (or shop) is an understatement, it was more of an induced coma. But, as things settled down, especially after summer half-term, my inner art tiger lifted an eyelid.

It all started with a general interest in weaving (and those who follow me on instagram know that I have been making woven bands and friendship bracelets, using different braiding and weaving techniques over the last months. Kind of fascinated by the look of different weaves, I cut a very simply block:

the printing block

I first printed it in different orientations with a stencil to create the image of different weaving styles:

Quite pleased with this outcome, and thinking while the prints were drying (and I was teaching in Kurzke Corona Home School), I had the idea to extent the use of stencils. I switched colour from black to a dark brownish red, and got going, first by placing additional imagery within my circle. That didn’t work very reliable, at least at this scale. But I still got two prints out of it that I rather like:

I kept working with the idea of putting images of women with children, carrying children into the picture.
(Hand) weaving immediately rewoke the memory of my woven carrying shawl that I used for a while to carry my babies. And I found that weaving and woven patterns are such a good image for motherhood. Both because traditionally all steps of the fabric-making process seem to be female work, but also because fabrics and babies seem to go together, the loose woven swaddling cloths, the amount of laundry you do, the carrying and nursing shawls, the beds we long for and spend time in, … And at the same time yarn and fabric metaphors are being used frequently to talk about life and our dependence from other humans and our relationships with them.

Yet another week later, I started to collage patterns and the used stencils.

I am note entirely sure where to take it from here. I have a couple of ideas, including one for a book. But first, I need a larger block to print from. This initial one is just 7.5cm square. The small size made the use of stencils tricky as any half-way stable paper has a thickness at is substantial at that scale. So, first a larger block, and then we’ll see. For now, I am busy packaging some of the prints.

Art, Home teaching, and Coronavirus. Or: How successful was 2020 so far?

At the beginning of this year, I thought about success, what it means for me, and how I want to achieve it in this year. I came up with a pretty ambitous list of goals for this year, it seemed to much to hope to accomplish.

Fields of Gold, Linoprint and Watercolour by H. Kurzke 2020

With clear goals in mind for the year, I set off to work. I pushed myself, in some weeks to the limit, as I was (and still am to an extent) suffering from increased fatique. Like to be expected when doing many projects at a time, in these first two months it’s hard to already tick boxes like sales and exhibitions. But I was clearly working toward all and felt very confident to make (almost) all my goals year. I reached out to other artists (which on its own felt very good), founding a collective (probably called milc, and hopefully with a website soon, but we got stopped in the tracked by an evil virus, more about that in a minute), I teamed up with two other printmakers to do the open studios jointly this year, I took one week off for focused writing, and handed in submissions…

And then, last week my life was turned upside down – like for so many. On Friday the 13th (when else), M. developed a high fever. Sticking to NHS guidelines, we created quarantine quarters for him: Our bedroom has an ensuite, so he was to stay in there. Luckily the twins share three beds, one for me to spare: They went back to sleeping in their poster in my daughter’s room, and I camped out in my son’s. So, instead of a weekend with printing and submissions to a print exhibition, I spent a weekend entertaining the kids, fearing we might catch something, and worrying in general. The fear that M. might have caught on the new Coronavirus stirred us up. Germany was closing down schools and threatened to close borders while the UK seemed set to doing nothing and “taking it on the chin” (quote Johnson). What would we do if M. and I both need hospitalisation? Where would our children go? What if something worse happens? I started to read up once again on how to write a will (something I have thought about many times but M. resists), M. read about how to set me up as a beneficient in his pension scheme (yes, we should have done all that before; and we haven’t even done it now), all the while making sure the kids don’t get too worried.

Image of self, suicide print from linoleum, H. Kurzke 2020, size 10cm square

On Saturday, M. had severe pain in his throat and still no cough at all. He called a GP practise which, after checking thoroughly over the phone, agreed that it didn’t seem like a corona infection, that the tonsillitis he himself suspected was more likely, and he was allowed to come in to see a doctor. They confirmed this diagnosis and prescribed antibiotics. He was still to isolate just in case, since it wasn’t clear that nothing is riding “on the back” of this infection.

We felt more confident again. But while M. still kept to his quarters, and I was alone with managing and entertaining the kids, alongside caring for M, and while struggling to sleep in my son’s bed.

On Monday I brought the kids to school, increasingly worried about the state of things. In Germany school closed, in the UK nothing was being done to help with the infection. The worst affected area, they seem to have reasoned, is not people and their lives but business and their finance.

On Monday, M. was still feeling ill but on the path to recovery. I sent the kids to school, because schools were still open. Because NHS advice at this point was that Matthias should self-isolate, but not the whole family. And, let’s be honest, because I craved breathing space. I needed to ship out goods that were ordered over the weekend, and wanted to get into the studio.

But we read up on recommendations for people with CP and found out that they are considered a risk group. The twins have never been especially prone to infections, and other than some with CP, do fine with breathing and swallowing. But as all muscles are weak and lack control, including those for breathing, it is feared that a pneumonia that comes with corona would render them in need of artificial respiration more or less immediately.

On Monday at the 5pm announcement, finally UK’s government buckled under international and domestic pressure and nodged their recommendations up. Anyone with a fever is to self-quarantine together with their family for full 14 days.

wing, detail of still unfinished work, H. Kurzke

M., still weak from high fever, wasn’t in a decicive mood. But I decided it was time to take the kids out of school and isolate completely. Even though his wasn’t a new fever. Even though we were pretty sure it wasn’t corona.

Knowing my children and myself, I knew it was unthinkable to wake them up the next morning and simply tell them that they wouldn’t go to school. So I closed down shops (also because we decided to self-isolate as completely as possible, and that includes not going to the post-office), and spent the evening and next morning setting up a time table for home schooling, printing out material, and keeping their schedule as close to the known as possible. Instead of telling them the next morning “no school for you today”, we told them from now on school was happening at home and presented them with a time table. We discussed how our “Kurzke Uniform” would look like, and kept dressing them in it every day.

new classroom wall

From that moment on, I taught Maths and English every day, plus two extra subjects in the afternoon: Geography, Music, Art, PE, science, German. My son asked for French lessons, and knowing my own limitations I booked a French class over skype for him.

On Tuesday we did maths from 9-10, had a short break with a snack of fruit, did English from 10.20-11.20, had a short break, and then guided reading with my son from 11.30-12. Somhow I managed to cook a very quick dinner at the same time, and at 12.10 we had a warm lunch. I went on a cleaning routine – that’s extra important if you have someone on quarantine in your house. To their great joy, I let the kids join in and gave them a cleaning job each. My daughter asks every day which task she is allowed to do that day.
We finished the day off in the afternoon with science and outdoor PE for one kid (football in the garden), physio exercises for the other kid. And then I started to prepare for the lessons on the next day…


On Wednesday M. was starting to feel better, and helped here and there. He’d cook lunch, and just help with stuff. Still, my life had turned in an instant. From doing art, reading news, and being worried about the world, I went to no-time-for-news, preparing lessons, delivering lessons, and organising kids.

I crave alone time. I crave art time. I weep for lost chances, and feel betrayed by the world. I made such an effort in the first two months of this year. And it looked like it would pay off. And now this health crisis just jumped in my way and keeps me away from the rewards of hard work.

But, to my surprise, with all the bad, good things happened too. It is hardwarming to see the level of support we received from everywhere. I am so grateful for all those who helped get my daughter’s physio and mobility equipment out of school to us, who shopped for us, or – in one instance – handed over their supplies of tampons and sanitary pads because these have become a rare item.

And I actually enjoy seeing my kids learn. I am so proud on how they are doing. They are eager to show me what they know, and actually love being home-schooled. On Wednesday my son asked whether we could just carry on with school through the holidays, – he didn’t want to do an Easter break. On Thursday both resisted the idea of interrupting school work for the weekend. And on Friday afternoon he said: “I am soo tired. Home school is just as tiring as real school. – But better.” Which I take as the highest praise. And I think it’s good that they are looking forward to the weekend and doing nothing for a while.

Gardening. – I am new to it; the first thing to do will be to assemble this wheelbarrow…

For me, it’s not back to art, unfortunately. I am looking forward to the weekend. I hope I’ll manage to write a little, and maybe film the skillshare class that I have already skripted (and online teaching is by now my only source of income). But I have more imporant plans:

I fear that, with Brexit still under way and all that, difficult times are coming. And I plan to turn a good portion of our garden and lawn into vegetable patches. I’ll start today with a very small (about 12 square meters) of potato field. So it’s digging and turning soil today and preparing classes tomorrow. Sowing seeds and planting stuff will come next. – One thing at a time. We are told that staying active is important, so I guess gardening is a good thing. And with schools in the UK closing from this Monday, home-teaching has been made easier: School now sends us teaching material and learning schedules for every week.

I wonder when I will next see a supermarket from the inside. I wonder when I will feel at rest and ease. I wonder when I will see friends and extended family again. I worry about more vulnerable family members. I wonder how these isolation measures will change society as a whole. I worry what will happen with the economy for us personally and the whole country, Europe, and the world. I worry what will drop out of this politically in the end.

But mostly I am busy looking after my family. And although I crave alone time, I am more grateful than ever for having children and being with my family. Not all’s bad that’s going to come.

How are you doing out there?