London-based graphic designer and artist Noma Bar has captured toys-cum-memories in his new book Transitions, which presents soft playthings in a brand new light.
Chances are you enjoyed playing with a soft toy when you were little. And while it hopefully gave you hours of fun, there was always another perspective ticking away in the background: the watchful eyes of your parents. It's this different perspective Noma Bar captures in his new collection called Transitions, published by Un Sedicesimo.
This personal project is a heartfelt tribute to the toys his daughters played with when they were little and was inspired by a common occurrence in family households. "My wife was packing a box of soft toys that my now teenage daughters used to play with, ready to take them to a charity shop," Noma explains. "These are old toys no longer in use. But they are not just static objects; they are also memories."
He adds: "At bedtime, I would give these toys different personalities – transforming them by tying their hands and legs together to create new characters for my daughters. Upside down and back to front, Miffy's tail becomes a mouse's nose; a cute duck becomes a guilty puppy; a monkey becomes a happy hippy.
"These were spontaneous discoveries, each bringing an alternative creature to life with a simple gesture, a changed expression and its own story."
Revisiting these toys caused all sorts of memories and emotions to resurface for Noma and took him back to a time when these objects were once an active part of their lives. "Today, I see them as an extension of my practice," he explains, "taking everyday objects that we largely ignored for their ubiquity and reawakening their value for us by presenting them in a different light, usually with a dual narrative.
"There is always another way of looking at things, an alternative perspective, a different way of seeing and understanding what's going on."
This fresh perspective is how Noma says he "meets life". He claims that his work is "rooted in dialogue", which in this case, makes a conversation out of the innocence of past characters and the views and experiences of others.
"Today, we live in a world where opinions are too often singular and polarised, yet compassion for a spectrum of Beliefs is a vital part of humanity. We must all try harder to turn situations upside down and inside out to understand the perspectives of others."
Rescued from their trip to the charity shop, these toys have now been lovingly patched back together and preserved. For Noma, letting them go would have been out of the question. "Somehow, it feels like giving away memories. Properly cataloguing the toys is a way for me to embrace transition and honour the natural passage of time.
"I have made those temporary transitions permanent, stitching their appendages in place and properly adorning them with their facial features and expressions. My daughters are quickly becoming adults. I still show them the small discoveries I make in everyday objects, like characters in coffee cups and facial expressions in street architecture. It's natural for me, and now for them too.
"They have grown up like this, and I believe it enriches our perspectives and life experiences. There are always more than two sides to any story."
Transitions is available to buy now for €5.