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CLARA TELLS THE STORY of a young girl's experience of grief in Australian suburbia. It was selected for the Shorts competition at this year's Cannes Film Festival. In this interview, Van discusses recurring themes in her animation work and her love of working with dolls.
SALLY O'BRIEN: When did you start working with dolls? When did they become the stars of your work?
VAN SOWERWINE: It wasn't until I was about 22 that I started collecting dolls from op shops, and I always had them as a child and was particularly fond of a few. There was one big baby doll that I kept froom my childhood and became really attached too. Then I started thinking about making animations with dolls. I mean I had this baby doll, but I've always been much more interested in teenage dolls, or dolls between the ages of 8 and 13, on the cusp of adolescence.
About seven years ago, I began actively collecting dolls. I started seeing them in op shops--maybe I got sick of buying op shop clothes and I started looking at other things in the shops--and I'd find these dolls that had faces that appealed to me in some way and make up a story about where they came from, what their history had been before they came to the op shop.
The transition from childhood to adolescence seems to be an important period for your work--what is it about this time that is so fascinating to you?…