Each set of Yana Elkassova’s Russian Dolls tells its own story. When she emigrated to the UK from Russia when she was just a child, Elkassova began to collect the dolls from her native country, possibly as a way to keep in touch with her roots. Having always been interested in creating narratives within her work, sometimes with accompanying text depending on the medium (she also makes works on paper) her own take on the traditional ornament are a natural development for her into sculptural forms.
Acknowledging the fact that regular Russian Dolls almost always depict the female figure in traditional costume, Elkassova wanted to bring her adaptations into the present day by portraying different notions of femininity with a touch of humour. ‘Make-Up Russian Doll’ for example was inspired by a reality TV show where the female contestants were encouraged to wear excessive amounts of make up and dress provocatively to succeed. The doll became a depiction of this and consequently the general obsession in our society with women’s physical appearance. Just like the very first Russian Doll made in 1899 that showed peasant girls holding objects such as a sickle and a bowl, ‘Make-Up Russian Doll’ holds different objects pertaining to her needs. Elkassova has also used similar motifs and colour palettes in her dolls as a way of keeping this link with the dolls’ tradition.
Elkassova graduated from Camberwell College of Arts, London in 2010 where she studied Illustration.