A playdate with Miss Ella & Miss Kina (Part One)

Dollmakers Miss Ella and Miss Kina join forces and visions to offer us a peek into their surreal worlds and the characters inhabiting them. Ahead of the exhibition we talk to Ella Goodwin, illustrator and designer of the popular Miss Ella doll kits. Ella’s dolls will be showcased and on sale at the shop from the 27th February to the 26th March.

Chiara: Hi Ella and thank you so much for answering our questions – we all love your artwork here at Benjamin Pollock’s Toyshop! In fact, let’s start with the exhibition this Spring at the shop –  what are the ideas and inspirations behind it? Does Pollock’s itself come into it at all?

Miss Ella: I have always loved Pollocks since being taken there as a child, a shop full of magic and stories. My work always has a story behind it, the characters are full of childhood nostalgia and their stories inhabit otherworldly imaginary homes and friendships. They are made from buried fabrics I have buried under an oak tree to bring another element to the fabrics, so they have literally grown out of and are softened by the ground.  This fitted with the ideas around them being mushroom girls. Golden Wings, the butterfly is my muse, she’s been fluttering around my head for some time telling me snippets of her stories about sewing the seams up of people’s dreams. She’s inspired by spring and new life and I hope she in turn inspires ideas and exploration.

Handmade dolls by Miss Ella with the characters of toadstools and a butterfly

Golden Wings and Toadstool Dolls by Miss Ella, 2024


Chiara: How did you bring your vision together with Miss Kina in this “shared space”? How has it been to collaborate as artists and doll-makers?

Miss Ella: This is a tricky one to answer before putting them together in the space. But regarding collaboration so far it has been brilliant to meet and work with lovely Miss Kina. To learn another makers process and also what inspires Miss Kina, she has sent me to lots of new places of inspiration!

Chiara: I know you have travelled around the world Ella and I’m interested in whether different cultures and traditions influenced your creativity and practice? And what about your own family – has there been a family member passing on a certain skill or artistic interest to you, perhaps?

Miss Ella: My parents are artists and have both inspired me from the books and tools my mother has given me as encouragement to the beautiful places my father took me as a child. Life as a child was between them (as they living in different parts of the world) and it’s many contrasts have certainly fed my imagination. These days I travel as much as life allows and the place I consistently go back to visit is Japan. Those travels to Japan have inspired my work via my obsessions with the art, craft and style to the beautiful landscapes and gentle kind people I have met along the way.

Chiara: Did you guys have some favourite games or pastimes as kids and teenagers?

Miss Ella: Ooh that’s an interesting one! Predictably I loved to make, I would buy vintage curtains from charity shops and make dresses as a teen and always loved vintage books, fairytales and mythology. I was an only child so I guess those pastimes were my company. When I was a kid my nan had a whole room full of children’s craft kits in boxes, I remember mini weaving looms, knitting my first scarf, wooden French knitting ladies, raffia basket kits…. It was such a treasure trove. Nan had a garden full of flowers and a bean stew on the stove… the absolute sweetest storybook Nan you can imagine.

Chiara: Miss Ella – your creatures are wild, but always so fashionable and chic! Where does this imaginarium come from? And what about your colour palette?

Miss Ella: Why thank you! I guess all of the above… travels, a love of vintage toys, ephemera, books and textiles. My colours palettes have always been vibrant to uplift the soul, an escape. On this collection I have chosen a slightly more muted palette adding gentle pinks and pops of red and yellow to compliment the buried fabrics and add a feeling of nostalgia and lost treasures.

Remy by Miss Ella 2024


Chiara: How have you managed to develop your style in such a unique way (your touch is so recognisable, it’s great!) while also exploring so many different artforms (doll-making, illustration, accessories making, paper art, etc.)?

Miss Ella: My background is really varied, as a teenager I studied fashion and Theatrical Costume then went on to do Animation to MA Level. I really enjoyed the puppetry and storytelling within animation and this scaling down in size led to the character building I do now but still incorporates all of those skills from stitch to model making to illustration and storytelling. I see them as an extension of my illustration, all part of the same story. My ambition is simply to make the heart smile, to take the viewer to a place of pure comfort.

Chiara: Did you guys get a chance to try something new with your art while working on this exhibition? Are there some new creative territories you’d like to explore in 2024?

Miss Ella: Yes I have been really experimental within this process with the creation of the caterpillars, butterfly and snail shells and embracing the unexpected learning curve that comes with creating characters from different textiles including those I make myself via embroidery and ageing process and most importantly, play.

Molly the Snail Girl, Miss Ella 2024

Miss Ella & Miss Kina – a joint exhibition will be on show at Benjamin Pollock’s Toyshop from 27th February – 26th March 2024

Interview by Chiara Scoglio