/Here explores sense of place
Artist Hendrika Sonnenberg talks to guests at the opening of Here her new exhibit with counterpart Chris Hanson showing at Minden's Agnes Jamieson Gallery. DARREN LUM Staff

Here explores sense of place

After 25 years of exhibiting their work in major cities such as Toronto New York Chicago Berlin Brussels England and Budapest the artistic team of Chris Hanson and Hendrika Sonnenberg are showing their latest creative collection called Here at the Agnes Jamieson Gallery in Minden.

Gallery curator Laurie Carmount introduced the two to a diverse crowd consisting of young and old and everybody in between at their opening reception on Friday April 1.

Carmount said the artists wanted to let the audience speak first and share what they thought about the exhibition which includes a collection of framed photo collages featuring cut photos with visual cues of the Highlands represented through a variety of moody scenes. They are produced using coloured polystyrene and are blended with cut photos from the model set from their eight-minute stop-motion animated film The Way Things Are . The film is on a continuous loop in a separate part of the gallery space.

The audience offered complimentary words such as “awesome’ “great” and “here and now.”

One audience member called it “lovely and playful fun and it makes you smile.”

Before the reception the pair spoke with the Times about their current exhibition which blends past work with work they’ve created since they’ve moved to Minden.

The pair moved here from Brooklyn New York close to two years ago taking residence in the old farmhouse that was the former Campbell’s Flowers building along Highway 35. It’s a welcomed change from the urban life they have led they said.

This move wasn’t by accident as Sonnenberg’s family has cottaged in the area for close to 50 years.

The two met in Halifax and started collaborating. Then they moved to Montreal Chicago and most recently New York.

They insist that Minden is not that different from these urban centres they called home before.

“I think you don’t need to be in an urban centre and pay outrageous rent for a tiny shoebox studio. Part of the reason we moved up here is we just built a new studio in town and it’s really great” Hanson said referring to the completion of their studio close to Christmas.

They’re considering the studio for possible short-term exhibitions a music venue or an opportunity for an artist residency.

Connectivity to the world through the Internet and social media enables opportunities to remain connected even from their rural base Hanson said.

Sonnenberg said the move allows them to continue to make art without having to find work to make it happen. In New York she said the costs were prohibitive and it was far more difficult in terms of finances.

They love the beauty of their new home a farmhouse originally built close to 1850 particularly compared to the “shoebox” of an apartment they had in Brooklyn.

Sonnenberg didn’t like the pattern of older buildings being torn down there and believes older homes offer more.

“There’s something a little magical about living in an old home” she said.

Both artists have really loved meeting the people and have appreciated the winter months when the snow blankets the town for how it transforms the way things look and how it brings a silence.

“I have to say I love the summer but there is something about winter” Sonnenberg said. “The show is about the transition between where we were and where we are now. I think it is … exploring this notion.  I guess it’s a philosophical approach to looking at things. Being here and being there.”

The stop-motion short film created in New York features miniaturized versions of some of their previously exhibited sculptures like a drunken lamppost and a Zamboni in an urban setting. The film shows the inanimate objects brought to life interacting in a fantastical world where the city space is devoid of people or animals. It’s set to a moody score.

When it comes to this exhibition Hanson said he and Sonnenberg have their own understanding their own anchors to work from but for everyone who views their work it is their sense and belief that is equally important in the message.

Sonnenberg added that part of the message of the art is up to the viewer.

“Art it’s about looking and exploring” she said. “And basically they have to complete the work … in the sense they have to go in there and have their own experiences” she said.

Learn more about the artists and their work through their website at www.bucketofblood.info