Swiss ("with Italian roots") doll artist Angela Sutter lives and works in the rural village of Schenkon, Switzerland. This friendly and peaceful environment is the perfect place for creative work.
When she entered the world of dollmaking, Sutter, who in 2005 is marking the 20th anniversary of her foray into dollmaking, was influenced by the European artist pioneers, including Hildegard Günzel, Annette Himstedt and Sabine Esche, as well as traditional dolls from Lenci and Sasha Morgenthaler. But like some artists of her generation, as she developed her own style, she found the characters that most interested her lay outside the traditional realm of European doll design.
"My biggest inspiration were my three children, but also the expressions and the fates of children in third world countries," she explains of her African, Asian, Balkan and Latin American beauties. In fact, it was her children who instigated her dollmaking and made her take a workshop in marionette design. Unimpressed with the results, and convinced she could do better, she went on to study dollmaking on her own. However, it wasn't until 1989 that Sutter took the big step: presenting her work to the public ("I couldn't separate myself from my dolls,"she recalls). That year, she was invited to an exhibition at a gallery in Basel, Switzerland. "This is where I sold my first dolls, and I was invited back every year after that." From there her passion took off. Since 1990, she has earned numerous gold and silver medals at the annual Eurodoll convention (including four golds, one silver and three First Prizes at the 1996 convention in Austria).
In 1998 she opened her studio, where she hosts annual exhibitions of her latest international creations, as well as teaches workshops and sells molds of her original porcelain designs. Sutter also collaborated with the Italian company Migliorati to create more affordable vinyl limited edition designs. Although her presence in the United States thus far has been small, she has a strong following in the U.K., Italy and throughout central Europe, and continues to gain attention internationally.
Angela Sutter crafts her dolls in Formo (an air-drying clay) or porcelain and carefully details their cultural characteristics from facial structures to their accessories, such as baskets, pots and jewelry. Wigs are human hair or mohair, and the tricot bodies, allow for maximum posability. She researches costumes and adorns her dolls in brightly colored but well-worn dresses, robes, serapes and kerchiefs. The doll's hair, though carefully styled, is often slightly mussed as a child's might be.
A doll of Angela Sutter begins with an idea that bounces around for some time, inspired by all kinds of objects and images. "When I actually start in the studio, and dive into the different materials, tools and fabrics, I feel completely in my element, and forget the world around me. When I finally can present my completed work and see how much joy I can offer with my dolls, it's a great reward." Sutter has never been interested in the typical doll - with nice silk clothes, bows and so on. What interests her are ethnic children, especially children living in the street. "With my dolls, I hope to contribute a little bit to the way one thinks about the hard fate of children in distant countries. The children living in the streets often have a certain melancholy in their eyes because they don't have the same tasks and opportunities that most other European children do, and still they are children: they play, they are satisfied." Angela Sutter's dolls invoke the stoic charm and innocent lustre of children who find moments of peace and joy within even the toughest of situations, and explore the cultural heritage that makes every life worth living.