For six years stood a gothic relic of the old prairie in rural town in Canada: a life-sized dollhouse. While the inside stood to had capture the timeless, quaint, midcentury aesthetic, the exterior structure had always remained true to its time: relieving the structure's decay and weathered age. That is, until the woman who created the enormous art installation decided to burn it down.
In 2005, Canadian artist Heather Benning discovered an abandoned Saskatchewan farmhouse, which she felt resembled the outside of an old dollhouse. Inspired by the building itself, Benning spent the next 18 months transforming the idle farmhouse into a child's dollhouse reminiscent of the late 1960s.
Benning's rural hometown of Humboldt, Saskatchewan has been the location of several of her large-scale installations. Often using familiar farming and rural settings for her projects, Benning focuses on nostalgia and "placelessness," referring to the modern age where the population of farmers and those growing up on farmland has drastically dwindled.
Since the building had been abandoned since 1968, Benning had to completely re-shingle and refurbish the neglected home. She then took to furnishing the inside with the bright pastels and 1960s decor until it resembled the mid-century era in which it was abandoned. To complete the dollhouse appearance, Benning removed all of the north walls, replacing them with plexiglass so onlookers could peer into every room.
Upon completion, photos of Benning's dollhouse installation have appeared in exhibits all over Canada.
A visitor of the dollhouse posted this video to YouTube.
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Over time, the building was finally beginning to succumb to the ravages of time. As the rural landscape surrounding the dollhouse rapidly changed to become more urban, with far more traffic and activity intruding upon the quiet old prairie that the dollhouse resembled. In 2013, when the building's foundation began to become unsound, Benning took precautionary measures in setting the building ablaze, destroying the living relic.
Now with the dollhouse's story concluded, Benning's work, "Field Doll & Death of The Dollhouse," will be on view at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Wisconsin, beginning October 3rd, 2014 and running to February 1st, 2015. The exhibition is part of a larger exhibition, "This Must Be The Place," which focuses on powerful places of influence in the lives of selected artists.
What places inspire you? Let us know in the comments below.
Artist transforms abandoned building into a life-sized dollhouse... and burns it down