Taking inspiration from history, Dutch artist and designer Manoushka Kraal of Noush Projects looked to the iconic African Clonette doll as her muse. For many, the Clonettes came to be known as angels that would look after your loved one and guide them through life, and as such, they became popular gifts. Noush Dolls were created in that same spirit and like so many African dolls, is more than a doll, but an idol – a talisman of sorts.

The modern version of the Clonette doll originated in Ghana during the 1950’s and were the first industrially produced dolls in Africa. Made from brightly coloured plastic and holding a bunny, the dolls were cheap to produce and would squeak when squeezed. In recent years, more than 60 years after they first started production, they have seen a resurgence both as a quirky home décor item and source of inspiration for artists.

While modern Clonette dolls are made of plastic, like so many African dolls, they were originally made from wood, and it was important to the artist to transform the Noush Doll back to where it originated. Additionally, it was also important that the dolls have African features, as the Clonette Doll, while produced for an African market, had distinctly Caucasian features.

In stark contrast to the original inspiration, Noush Dolls is not a squeaky plastic doll, but a work of art. Each doll is of hand-carved Jacaranda wood from which a mould is made and a resin composite produced. A skilled team of artisans in the Noush workshop in Durban, South Africa then hand paint each art piece to the required specifications

Noush has created not just a doll, but a sculptural piece of art that is both exquisite but quirky at the same time, and like all good art, it creates conversation