Sonia Singh was working as a scientist and science communicator for the CSRIO in Hobart before her talent as an artist and penchant for recycling went viral on the internet.
“I get a lot of satisfaction out of up-cycling and re-purposing something that nobody wants anymore into something that can be treasured…I came up with this idea of giving dolls a make-under and making them look really natural,” Sonia says.
Half a million online followers later and Sonia’s art project, Tree Change Dolls, has effectively stirred a global movement of people eager to support recycling to create dolls that reflect real children that are ready to explore the world.
“Nature can take care of itself if we let it – just let nature do its thing and don’t destroy it.”
“In my head I was thinking maybe I could have a little online shop and sell the dolls, but it just went so viral – the general notion was that I was trying to make a big statement, but I wasn’t,” she says, explaining that there is a common misconception about what inspired her project.
“A lot of people assume that I was shocked and horrified with what dolls were available, but that’s not actually my story, for me it was really about the up-cycling.”
While Sonia no longer works as a scientist, her devotion to nature and science hasn’t dwindled and is still a strong theme in all that she does.
“The environment is one reasons why I do a lot of second-hand shopping and up-cycling, it’s more in line with what my values are,” she says, adding that she is now showcasing the natural world to more people than ever.
“When the dolls went global it’s been great to take the photos outside in nature and show Tassie,” she explains.
Sonia has been remarkably generous with both her ideas and income, sharing DIY doll up-cycle guides and giving 10 percent of all doll sales to humanitarian or environmental charities, in addition to auctioning a doll a month for charity. In 2015 one of her dolls (a bush-walker named Lexi) travelled to Florida after auction, following which Sonia gifted its sale of $1,600 to the Tasmanian Land Conservancy.
“Nature can take care of itself if we let it – just let nature do its thing and don’t destroy it,” she says.
“That’s partly why I like donating to the Tasmanian Land Conservancy because it gets that message out there.”
Sonia will be donating 10 percent of all sales from her latest bunch of dolls to the Tasmanian Land Conservancy - we can’t thank her enough for her generosity and passion for nature conservation.
To purchase a Tree Change Doll, read Sonia’s blog, or learn how to DIY doll up-cycle, visit http://treechangedolls.com.au/
Banner image: Chris Crerar. All other photos: supplied.