Abandoned houses are so often imbued with a sense of sadness and loss – the feeling that someone’s memories are crumbling before your eyes. Artist Heather Benning found such a home when she took a position as an artist-in-residence in the rural community of Redvers, Saskatchewan – but what she saw was the possibility for something new and amazing. Benning turned the home into a life-sized dollhouse complete with glass walls.
For the ‘Dollhouse’ project, Benning used the existing abandoned house as a base for a massive art installation. Starting in 2005, Benning began to overhaul the home, often using recycled materials. The home was donated to her for the project by the landowner.
Each bedroom was lovingly re-plastered and painted in a bright, cheerful color. Benning searched for furniture and other items that would give the home a traditional dollhouse feel. Then, she removed one entire side of the home’s exterior and replaced it with Plexi-glass.
Now, instead of gazing into broken windows to view decay and deterioration, passersby can marvel at a warm and cozy scene of domestic happiness.
“I chose to close the house in with plexi glass because I wanted it to be inaccessible, and tomb-like – inaccessible in that one cannot enter a real dollhouse because of the scale, and tomb-like because it encapsulates a time and a lifestyle that no longer exists, and will never exist again,” Benning told The Daily Mail. “I wanted to capture a life with no internet, flat screen televisions, air conditioning, etc. When the telephone was the main contact to the rest of the world.”