‘Russian Doll’ – Remembering Female Victims of War

'The Russian Doll', red, black, blue and green Biro drawing by Jane Lee McCracken

‘The Russian Doll’, red, black, blue and green Biro drawing by Jane Lee McCracken

Adopting the iconic image of the Russian doll, this drawing was made as a memorial to women and young girls  who were/are the victims of violence during war.  A Russian Doll painted with the tranquil scene of Ivan Shishkin’s ‘Morning in a Pine Forest’, 1889, one of Russia’s most popular paintings, is layered with the image of Russian soldiers fighting in the Battle of Stalingrad during WWII.  Now a well documented fact, graphically conveyed in such writings as Anthony Beevor’s ‘Berlin: The Downfall 1945’ 2002, this piece represents the genocidal rape perpetrated by the Red Army as it surged towards Berlin.  The novelist Vasily Grossman, a front line war correspondent with the Red Army, dismayed at the mass rape committed by so many Russian soldiers on not only German women but liberated Polish and Russian women wrote,

“Horror in the eyes of women and girls” (‘A Writer at War: Vasily Grossman with the Red Army 1941-1945’).

The consequences of such violations often resulted/result in suicide, unwanted pregnancies and lifelong psychological and physical scars. By layering a self-portrait as part of the Russian Doll’s face, thus bridging awareness between statics and reality, this representation suggests that during war violence is indiscriminate and targets females of all ages and backgrounds.  Often a strategic weapon of war that has been used in conflicts since records began, it is still common today, recently in the Democratic Republic of Congo and with many incidents of rape being reported in the current conflict in Iraq.   At the very edge of the drawing appear the legs of a young girl, a reminder of the very young victims of war rape.

For further images from this series please visit my website.

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6 thoughts on “‘Russian Doll’ – Remembering Female Victims of War

  1. I think that the face to the far left (as we view it) looks a lot like you Jane.
    I have some Matryoshka dolls, from trips to the Soviet Union. One has 13 inside, the other is a political one, starting at Yeltsin, and finishing with a tiny Lenin. You have captured the spirit perfectly, and the illustration is as always, wonderful.
    Best wishes as ever, Pete.

    • Thank you Pete, you’re right! 13 wee Matryoshka’s, amazing – this one only has 5. Would love to see if you have any photos, they are always so captivating. Still wishing to go to Russia one day as I haven’t been yet. I’m sure you will have enjoyed all your trips. Hope you had a great time at the wedding. Best wishes as always, Jane

      • It was a fabulous wedding Jane, and good weather too. Look out for a blog post about it soon. I don’t have any photos of my dolls,and they are packed away in a box in the garage!

    • Thank you Jack, I always remember your first comment about it and how much that meant and just couldn’t believe the exceptional quality of the scan. Thank you for the amazing work you do for me. J x

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