Designers on your doorstep

Jenny Hickinbotham

Home is where the heart is, sometimes it’s better not to be with family in the place they might call home but to make your own homely place within your own heart and network. These mannequins represent youth finding their place in our cultural system, which offers an alternative exploratory space for all people. Identity is often fraught when people experience family traumas and disfunction. These mannequins and the song they play explore ideas of selfhood, the potential for inclusion and connection in this social system, leading to a home. The design aspects of this work reflect emotional wellbeing and provide a sense of companionship through designed objectification. Design is essentially about creating objects, my objectification of a group of mannequins connecting over music extends and fulfils the imagined homely family feeling of togetherness and companionship we all desire. Music touches multiple zones in the brain, it provides a significant sensory engagement. In your own home, you can set up the mannequin trio with speakers and sound system and play music you enjoy. Or you could commission me to write more songs!! As an object in your home these mannequins inspire love, wellbeing and a sense of connection.

IMAGE > Jennifer Hickinbotham, <em>Neuro-diverse Groove</em>, 2021, mannequins, op-shop clothing, tip-shop two tier table on wheels (re-painted), scooter, skateboard, helmet, hat and op-shop over-shoulder bags., 18 x 140 x 140 cm. Image courtesy of the artist.
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I haven’t bought anything except food for nearly two years. Objects seem to be unnecessary.

My practice is focused around my home, I don’t go out into the community much, just make do with what’s here at home.

These mannequins and the song they play explore ideas of selfhood, the potential for inclusion and connection in this social system, leading to a home.

I rent in an old and cold house, little sun-light gets inside, which disappoints me. I like the lounge room best because that’s where I relax and put my feet up in the evenings, I love all my ‘toys’ around the room, dolls, doll’s house, stuffies, teddy bears, things I love to look at and remember. And my dogs cuddle up to me on the couch. 

We have lots of beautiful gardens here in Gisborne, some designed, like the Botanical Gardens, and others like Dixon Fields, a space for my dogs to run off leash.

My dolls house is special, I set it all up with the furniture and tiny characters, I bought it at the local op shop. When I put my tea light candles inside, light shines out, as if it’s night time in that little house.

I don’t cook much, but when I want something substantial to eat this is what I cook.

Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks in Red Wine Sauce.


  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 lamb shanks 
  • 1 cup onion, finely diced 
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 cup carrot finely diced
  • 1 cup celery finely diced 
  • 2 1/2cups (625ml) red wine (I use Aldi’s cheapest)
  • 2 x 400g cans diced tomatoes 
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste (if I haven’t got it I don’t worry)
  • 5 sprigs of thyme
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 2 cups/500ml chicken stock 

To Serve
Mashed potato, polenta or pureed cauliflower
Fresh thyme leaves, optional garnish


  • Preheat oven to 350F/180C
  • Pat lamb shanks dry and sprinkle with salt & pepper (I don’t use salt & pepper)
  • Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a heavy based pot over high heat. Sear the lamb shanks in 2 batches until brown all over, about 5 minutes.
  • Remove lamb onto a plate and drain excess fat (if any) from the pot
  • Turn the heat down to medium low. Heat remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil in the same pot, if needed.  Add the onion and garlic, cook for 2 minutes.
  • Add carrot and celery. Cook for 5 minutes until onion is translucent and sweet.
  • Add the red wine, chicken stock, crushed tomato, tomato paste, thyme and bay leaves. Stir to combine
  • Place the lamb shanks into the pot, squeezing them in to fit so they are mostly submerged

  • Turn stove up, bring to a simmer. Cover, then transfer to the over for 2 hours 
  • Remove from over, remove lid, then return to the oven for another 30 minutes. Check to ensure lamb meat is ultra-tender (use 2 forks) – if not cover and keep cooking. Ideal is tender meat but still just holding onto bone.
  • Remove lamb onto plate and keep warm. Pick out and discard bay leaves and thyme.
  • Strain the sauce into a bowl, pressing to extract all sauce out of the veggies (I don’t do this, I just eat the veges). Pour the strained sauce back into the pot. Bring to simmer over medium heat and reduce slightly to a syrupy consistency – author says they rarely needs to do this. They add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Serve the lamb shanks on mashed potato or other options with plenty of sauce. Garnish with thyme leaves if desired. 

It’s really rich and delicious, one shank does me for two meals. There’s lots of notes and etc.  Here’s the link.

IMAGES [Top to bottom] > All images courtesy of the artist. Recipe image source: unsplash.

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Designers on your doorstep

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