For her installation ‘The Quest for the Inner Child- Souvenir shop, at Ovada Gallery artist Solveigh Goett has set up a souvenir shop, in which she explores different aspects of childhood through a variety of objects such as dolls’ faces, found photographs and colourful, beautifully made, children’s dresses.

The ‘Red Shoes’, which are poised on a plinth, look as if they could begin to dance. These shoes look like a child’s shoes- what happened to the child, did she like dancing, how did her shoes end up here? Through her multi-layered, object-based approach, Goett allows us to construct our own narratives, to think about our own past as we journey into the future.The text which accompanies the work supports the importance of valuing childhood:

‘Most people put their childhood away as if it was an old hat. They forget it as if it was a phone number that does not apply anymore. They think about their life as if it was a salami which they are eating slice by slice and then they become grown-ups, but what are they now? Only those who grow up and still remain children are real human beings’.(Erich Kastner, 1952)

The ‘Quest for the Inner Child’ also explores the search for the inner child in a developmental context. ‘Flower Child’ and ‘Flower Child, too’ seem to relate to a younger child as do ‘Collect them all’, a collection of readymade dolls faces;whereas ‘Latchkey Kid’, a collection of keys individuallly attached to key rings wrapped in vintage fabric, are a reminder of teenage years- the adolescent that lets themselves into the house while the parents are out at work.‘Transitional Identities’, the collection of found photographs framed in felted wool make one think of the ‘transitional object’.This in psychoanalytic discourse would be an object that the subject treats as being half-way between themselves and another person, typically a doll or a piece of cloth which the child treasures and uses as a comforter. This allows the child to safely make the transition from infantile narcissism to object-love and from dependence to self-reliance (Winnicott, 1958).

Goett’s work effectively weaves together discourses from different disciplines through the universal medium of textiles. This body of work is part of a rich and diverse group show in which 11 artists from Oxfordshire and nearby have been selected to explore the theme of pilgrimage within a contemporary context.

Madi Acharya-Baskerville is an artist based in Oxford