Gabrielle de Montmollin was born in Toronto of Swiss parents. From 1979 to
1986 she worked in television at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and
pursued an interest in independent film-making.
In 1986 she decided to focus on her long-standing interest in photography
and took courses at Ryerson Polytechnic Institute and the Ontario College of
Art, specializing in black and white photography. Since then she has
exhibited in solo and group shows in Canada and France.
In her artist statement she writes "From the time I first found my own voice
as an artist I have mostly used plastic toys and dolls in staged settings to
create tableaux vivants in which I seek my own meanings and invite the
viewer to find his or her own. My art is based on imagination and I am
interested in story-telling, play and mystery.
At first I 'played' with toy soldiers, farm animals and rubber babies, then
I moved on to Barbie dolls which I would buy battered and chewed on in
thrift stores. Eventually I made masks for the Barbies, transforming them
into secret individuals acting out their own enigmatic stories (a selection
of photographs from the series Not A Child's World, The fruit and
vegetable series, The meticulous construction of the tranquil life of
Amazons, Leading Ladies and Carnevale at the Hotel of the Bridge of
Sighs can be viewed at http://www.artishell.com).
In my most recent work Train Times Is Any Time, I am using primitive
manipulation and photomontage techniques reverse prints, photocopies and
paper negatives as well as an appealing new company of 'actors' that I
call mutants (created by rearranging heads and bodies of dolls that were
pretty strange to begin with). This is a work in progress the beginning of
an exploration into new imaginative worlds."