How amazing was this real-life dollhouse installation created by Canadian artist Heather Benning?!
Back in 2006, Heather came across this abandoned farmhouse in the Manitoba prairies and knew she needed to give it a second life. Over the course of the next year Heather fixed up and redecorated each of the houses rooms with the simple and cheery style of a retro childhood dollhouse. The removal of the walls on one side of the house completes the dollhouse look (she replaced them with plexiglass).
Six years after the dollhouse's completion Heather set it ablaze. It was loosing its structural integrity and Heather didn't want to see it fall down, or get vandalized. It was always her intention to eventually destroy the dollhouse.
Below is an excerpt from an interview Heather did with the CBC. Read the full interview HERE
How did you come up with the idea of turning it into a dollhouse?
When you drive down that highway, this little house sort of stood out from the prairie. It was a small house and it had a charm to it--old cedar shake siding, a quaint dormer on the second storey and large picture windows in the kitchen and living room.
So I pulled over to look through the windows. The house had the layout of a dollhouse. Its stature and presence somewhat informed me that it should live again. I was, perhaps still am, preoccupied with a notion of nostalgia and the idea that one longs for a simpler place in time.
With The Dollhouse I wanted to show both the romantic nostalgia of that ideal and simultaneously show the reality. So I left the exterior of the house to appear as it was after 40 plus years of abandonment, with the interior looking as though the house was just left as it was.
The idea was to show this romantic ideal of what a lovely life it was in that lovely little house, but then to bring the viewer into the real--it wasn't that lovely, the house became abandoned, no one lived in it ever again.
What did you want to say about the prairies with this project?
This is a surprisingly tough question for me, and I don't feel I can answer it adequately. I grew up with great storytellers: my father, mother, and grandmother, who talked about what it was to come to Canada and dig a hole in the side of a hill and try to survive the winter.
. . . .
This project is/was about the difficulty and sadness of leaving home due to economics. It's about remembering home--a home when you were a child and there were moments of complete stability, as though nothing would ever change, like the walls of a dollhouse--then becoming an adult and realizing that one's world will always change. And there is always something left behind--some trace, a structure, a toy, a tea kettle...