Original artwork, from $444; giclée prints, from $360; heatherhaynes.com for information and prints.
Choosing art for our homes is highly personal.
Some homeowners opt for works that quietly blend into the decor; others follow their heart, collecting and displaying pieces eclectically. We stopped in our tracks when we saw these collaborative works by artist Heather Haynes and photographer Virginia Macdonald. How the work came to be is as powerful a story as the artworks are striking. After reading about artist Frida Kahlo, Virginia, whose work frequently graces the pages of Style at Home, began photographing women in different countries, all dressed as Frida. “I did not want to shoot this,” admits Virginia, who had reservations because the Mexican artist’s image is so commodified. But Virginia was compelled, feeling that Frida’s life and work – her struggles to create despite her physical pain and limitations – was a still-relevant story for so many women. As well, Virginia noticed that the women she photographed experienced a similar reaction. “Once they thought about who they were ‘pretend- ing’ to be, their own power and authenticity would reveal itself,” she says.
Soon after meeting Heather, Virginia invited her to create paintings using the photographs. The work consumed Heather. “Days would pass and I would be in my studio until late at night,” she says. “I couldn’t pull away, and why would I?” The resulting work is on display in Heather’s gallery, which is also her home. It’s an appropriate space, symbolizing the intimacy of Frida’s artwork.
The installation itself is a fascinating lesson for art and decor lovers alike. This is not a sterile white-walled gallery. Blue, red, pink, gold and yellow rooms add to the immersive experience of viewing the “Fridas.” Says Heather: “Virginia’s sensibility around interior design and her years of experience through her photography really shone through while curating the space. We would both know intuitively when we hit on what the colour, placement or installation needed to be.” Virginia agrees: “I felt it was important to allow the space to speak and say where the paintings should be hung. That enhanced the overall decor of the house, as well.” The show is a must-see for those in or travelling to eastern Ontario, but we love that the artists have released limited-edition giclée prints, available online. “We really wanted to be able to share the artwork with whomever wished to live with it,” says Heather. Virginia adds: “We are sharing all of this so that everyone can have a piece of Finding Frida.”