Hanni Sager, The Toy Lady

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October 30, 2010 – January 29, 2011

Hanni Sager, The Toy LadyOpening Reception: Saturday October 30, 2010 2 – 5 pm

The pleasure of play has always inspired Hanni Sager. Trained as a fashion designer in her native Switzerland, Sager immigrated to Canada as a young woman in the late 1950s. Sager developed and ran toy-making workshops at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre for the Arts. Her efforts and enthusiasm eventually earned her the moniker of Toronto’s Toy Lady.

For many years Sager has been severely disabled by muscular dystrophy and has to wear multiple body braces which limit and constrict her movement. Every winter Sager travelled to Mexico to escape Canada’s harsh winters and the discomfort it caused her. Her love of play and interest in toys led her to seek out traditional folk toys on her yearly visits to Mexico. Eventually Sager moved to Mexico and took up permanent residence in Oaxaca where she discovered she was living next to a home for disabled orphans. Once again, the Toy Lady took it upon herself to inspire and enable children through the power of play. In Mexico her toy-making workshops became vital to the lives of the children involved by giving them the means to alter the course of their lives. Through her dedicated work and boundless enthusiasm Sager presented the children with an outlet for imagination and creativity as well as a sense of empowerment and pride.

Hanni believes that “the toy is the first art object in a person’s life.” The result of her many years of research and discovery, the Hanni Sager Folk Toy Collection presents many examples of exquisite and unique ‘first art objects.’ The Hanni Sager Folk Toy Collection, now housed at Creative Spirit Art Centre, is the Toy Lady’s legacy in Toronto, a source of inspiration for children, adults and artists and above all a celebration of the pure pleasure of play.

Hanni Sager, The Toy Lady is an exhibition of art dolls by the artist available for sale as well as selections from her Mexican Folk Toy Collection. Her new doll series includes; Shapes and Shadows, each fibre doll hides behind a tiny clay mask from the Oaxaca markets; Hecho en Oaxaca, dolls crafted from the ubiquitous rebozo the most important piece of clothing in the life of a Mexican woman; and finally I Dreamt I was a Mushroom, Hanni says “To me the colours of mushrooms alone are enough to hallucinate on! Sometimes I meet people who look just like them.” (See examples of Hanni's Collection here)

(Creative Spirit would like to thank The Japanese Paper Place, New Canadians Home Building Centre and Italiano Woodworx for sponsorship of Hanni Sager, The Toy Lady)