Many moons ago (June 2009, to be exact) the Dunlop Gallery had an exhibition by Heather Benning that featured works from her Field Doll and Dollhouse projects.
That’s an image from the former, in which she fabricated a large-scale child’s doll and then photographed it against the backdrop of abandoned farm yards. Conceptually, Benning envisions the doll as perhaps having been left behind by a child when the family left the farm to pursue a more prosperous future elsewhere.
The Dollhouse project has a similar thematic underpinning with Benning removing one wall of an abandoned farm house in southern Manitoba and installing transparent plexiglass. She then photographed the house against dramatic prairie skies.
Both projects speak to the depopulation that has occurred in rural areas for the past number of decades as economic factors and lifestyle considerations push people to move to more heavily populated cities.
On Thursday June 11 an exhibition by Benning called Rural Attractions is opening at Slate Gallery in Regina. The show will have work from both the Field Doll and Dollhouse series, along with the actual doll that Benning used in the photographs. She’ll also be exhibiting work from her latest photographic series Kil(n) Hand which features an old tobacco kiln she discovered in Ontario.
The opening reception on June 11 is from 5-8 p.m., and Rural Attractions will be on display until early July.