Christina Heurig

images · art direction · set design

The Heartmill Lands: Making of Pt. 2

The creation process of my miniature landscapes:

The iconic image of the Heartmill became the center of my fictional universe. How it was created, inspirations and more images in full article.



Some emotions can be depicted best without a human body in it.

I portrayed people for years, trying to picture their “innermost”, their soul, emotions, stories. But it never seems to quite fit to the wicked, mysterious, quite surreal world… in my heart… those worlds I wander in my dreams.

That’s the main issue why I started creating the surreal landscapes.


The center part of the human soul-scape – and power unit of my surreal wonder-world:

06 The Heart Mill

It is a palace of heavy work: The Heart Mill. And I named my fictional landscape-universe after it: “The heartmill lands”.

I imagined human hearts for a long time as rumbling, rotating, whirling machines that won’t stop to produce the essentials of life: emotions, the ‘food’ that keeps a soul alive. It can break, it can be taken down by storm – and needs a lot of manpower and some skill to keep working. This symbolic image was brilliantly clear in my mind for years. And finally I found a way to visualize it!



The model building process

At first I tried to build a ‘normal’ mill out of toys, but soon found the center piece to be missing anyway.

So I went down another (ugly) road: with my fascination for anatomy, I always keep some sheep hearts in my freezer. They look similar to human hearts.

I glued cutton balls to a bed sheet and lit it from behind to create a dramatic sky. The sky has an ugly yellow, sulfuric color – in a golden dawn. An almost war-like atmosphere, apocalyptical but still romantic landscape: with the mill towering above the hills.

Bildschirmfoto 2016-04-14 um 23.17.48

The power lines are small toy train accessories from ebay to make the whole scene more ‘real’. Like an actual, modern human lives in the mill. For some reason I could not stop to think about the tale of Krabat (A wizard keeps slaves working in his mill to sustain his black magic power. At night he turns them into raven and when they are out of use into another animal. In my childhood this tale scared me to death.)


Used the same set for another scenery: a nightmarish factory.

While nearly drowning in my workflow, I built another desert landscape out of sand and spices. That means: remove the moss and spill all kitchen supplies on the table. Yay.

My whole room smelled like curry and paprica – and made me cry all the time. The image of a small city – or building – made out of old computer boards is old, too. I helped my dad often to repair electronic stuff when I was little – and all I saw were small cities with streets and houses.

Basically, working in a cold, uncomfortable factory is my nightmare. Black steel, towering chimneys, where no individual matters anymore.
The rocks: catalysator pieces from ebay and some of my syringes as futuristic glas towers. I reduced the clouds to create a flatter, more undramatic and unpersonal feeling.

In the end, the monocrome version helpes to remove emotion and add cold distance. In the back you can see the tape I stuck the cotton to. After a while all of it fell down because it is not so easy to keep lose cotton in place.


Conceptual background

Surrealism in the Heartmill Lands: Inappropriate objects replace the ‘usual’

For two reasons I soon started abusing objects, drifting farer and farer away from pure imitation of known landscapes.

First: Being a student means you cannot afford everything – I only had a broken toy mill and not many other miniature toys. Either I get creative or I will starve to death. (Haha.)

Second: I fell in love with a pure surreal approach to objects long ago. Combining objects, creating new contexts, questioning perception and – finally creating another realm of ‘reality’. Those so-not-logical combinations fill my dreams, my sense of humor and are symbols to a rather fantastical version of reality that can still be approached (due to ‘real’ objects in them.)



One of my favorite surrealists: Rene Magritte – “Personal Values” (1952)

Making surreal landscapes that combine known “every-day” objects with a landscape (where said objects could, size-related, not fit in) creates a feeling of awe and wonder.

Wonder and curiosity is my first and strongest power and energy-source to thrive on. It keeps the inner child alive, it eases all the every-day grayness, it makes you understand…

how beautiful the world is.


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