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Eleanor Macnair: “Carving Contemporary Photographs Rendered in Play-Doh”

Eleanor Macnair's approach to her photographic process is playful and inquisitive. Taking both iconic and lesser-known photographs and reconstructing them out of Play-Doh, she pares the original images down to their most simple forms and colours. The act of studying and recreating these two-dimensional images into a colourful sculpture form out of Play-Doh allows the artist the opportunity to slow down the act of viewing and to really examine the image, a challenge she also sets for those viewers who encounter her work.

United Kingdom – 

This new publication, Photographs Rendered in Play-Doh, reproduces for the first time, Eleanor Macnair’s Play-Doh reproductions of photographs from the blog photographsrenderedinplaydoh. The photographs in the publication range from the well known and iconic, to lesser-known images by contemporary photographers. The project started on a whim following a photo pub quiz run by MacDonaldStrand, in Brighton, August 2013. One of the rounds was to make a reproduction of a famous photograph using Play-Doh. One year later and Macnair’s blog has been viewed by thousands of people across the world and has a following amongst professional photographers and curators.


Photographs rendered in Play-Doh, books                                                               Photography by Jana Romanov


The project has cost forty pounds to produce, including Play-Doh, chopping boards and a highball glass to use as a rolling pin. Each photograph took about an hour to create, shoot and then disassemble back into the Play-Doh pots. The works no longer exist and the green blanket from the Cartier-Bresson later became a snake in the Madame Yevonde, the bushes in the Becher, the hood in the Judy Joy Ross and the hosepipe in the Stephen Shore. ‘I have a simple, naïve love of photography and I hope this is reflected in this series. It’s my strange tribute to photography.’ The book is published as a collaboration between MacDonaldStrand and Photomonitor, and designed by The Entente. Five different ‘Play-Doh’ coloured covers are available.

Art & Culture

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