Play-Doh Portrait Photographs By Eleanor Macnair

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 32 months ago
Play-Doh Portrait Photographs By Eleanor Macnair
Original photograph: Untitled, 1975 from the series 'On a Good Day' by Al Vandenberg © Eleanor Macnair

Eleanor Macnair has worked in the National Portrait Gallery and White Cube promoting art created by others, but now she's turned to producing her own artwork. These Play-Doh portraits were shown in a blog seen by people across the world, before being published in a book. Some of the photographs will be exhibited in a gallery shortly, so we caught up with Eleanor before her show to ask about the work:

Why Play-Doh? What does it offer that other traditional mediums do not?

The whole project started on a whim after going to a pub quiz where one of the rounds was to re-make a famous photograph in Play-Doh, so I cannot take credit for the original idea. I've continued using Play-Doh because it's so cheap and accessible, it only costs £1 per pot and you can re-use it many times. Photographs Rendered in Play-Doh started as an internet project, and in our digital age images can be thought of as disposable — we take a quick look and move on — and Play-Doh seemed like the perfect material to use to represent this.

People often say about modern art that a child could do it. Using a medium associated with child's play, does your work reference this issue?

The project plays with this idea — a child could have done this project, I'd be the first one to agree. I think this is maybe why people like the series, it's refreshing because there is a democracy and an accessibility to it. I've never claimed that it was art or has an intellectual framework, it is what it is, photographs rendered in Play-Doh.

Who are the portraits of?

The images are all of work by either well-known photographers from the past 150 years to the present day, or interesting photographers who are little known, overlooked and I think more people should now about them.

Photographs rendered in Play-Doh by Eleanor Macnair will be on at Atlas Gallery, 49 Dorset St, W1U 7NF from 2 October to 27 November. Entrance is free and the gallery is open 10-6 weekdays and 11-5 Saturdays.

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Original photograph: Portrait with Blue Hair, 2013 by Daniel Gordon rendered in Play-Doh © Eleanor Macnair
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Original photograph: Young boy, Gondeville, Charente, France, 1951 rendered in Play-Doh © Eleanor Macnair
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Original photograph: Jack Crowley with Dove, Munich, 1969 by Will McBride rendered in Play-Doh © Eleanor Macnair

Last Updated 29 September 2015