To Russia with love: nesting dolls of gay icons


This holiday season, Mother London, the largest independent advertising agency in the UK, is taking Russia’s iconic nesting dolls and making a set of them with a new theme—British gay icons.

Also known as matryoshka dolls, they first appeared in the late 1800s and have come to be one of Russia’s most commonly recognized art mediums. Generally, they follow a theme such as religious holidays or characters from folk tales, but dolls focused on anatomy, the evolution of Michael Jackson, or Star Trek are also known.

Mother London came up with the idea to use its 2013 holiday project to take Russia’s own creation and use it to promote LGBT rights. Paddy Fraser told Fastcocreate, “The decision on who to choose was hard. We finally decided to start with a British set and only gay men, rather than make it international and mixed. The ambition is to widen it later on and have a lesbian set, and a Winter Olympics athlete set.”

Once they had their theme, picking which specific celebrities to use was easy. Fraser explained, “Gay men the nation loves who are out and proud, it’s got to be Elton, George, Stephen and Graham. And of course finally, Tom Daley. Who was obviously quite a late entry. We thought we should celebrate a young gay man (and sportsman) coming out in such a proud and public way. Unfortunately Gok Wan lost his place to Tom!”

In order from biggest to smallest, the set of five dolls consists of Elton John, Stephen Fry, George Michael, Graham Norton, and Tom Daley. Fry tweeted,

Two sets of dolls are themselves destined to be sent to Russian authorities; one to the Moscow Kremlin, and the other to the Russian Consulate in London.

The remaining seven sets of dolls are being put up for auction online between December 13 and 22 to support The Kaleidoscope Trust, a UK based charity working to uphold LGBT rights internationally. Thefirst auction, which is autographed by Sir Elton John, ends on December 19. The auction, which is being hosted by eBay UK, is open to bidders from all over the world.


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