In the Garden – Miniature Art

Following on from my bridge for mini-beasts I decided to add to this new world I had created and made a flag pole as a marker for the “summit” that the bugs would have had to climb. This was purely an excuse for me to return to the world of the miniature and inhabit the world I had previously discussed once more.

I was eager to learn more about miniature art and find others who were making tiny works of art.

Miniature art, I discovered, has had a long history that “spans centuries of tradition in various cultures and civilisations around the world. A recent focus in the arts of Asia has put miniature art from South Asia on the global contemporary art map, reintroducing the age-old medium through a re-interpretation, re-elaboration and revival in the work of internationally acclaimed artists such as Imran Qureshi, Aisha Khalid, Shahzia Sikander and Rashid Rana, among others(Xuan Mai Ardia, 2014).

Many, such as Shahzia Sikander, who are currently exploring this subject aim to “expand the medium from within, embracing its craft, technique, rigour, detail and small scale, as well as its historical contexts” (Desai, 2013). 

I have noticed a particular surge in the interest of the miniature, particularly with miniature food, the desire for us to escape our world and into a world reminiscent of cherished childhood memories and play kitchens. Perhaps we have grown tired with technology and the simplistic elements of the play kitchen provide an escape to our smartphones and computer games.

Miniature art does have its practical uses too, particularly with drawings and paintings. The smaller size makes them much more transportable and therefore affordable – size also enables a collector to display more pieces.

What inspires others to use the miniature in their art I wonder, artist Matthew Albanese revealed to The Creators Project:

My obsession with miniatures began at a young age. Playing with toys, action figures, and miniature replicas was an early vehicle to unlocking my imagination. It always seemed to me that the miniature was the most effective solution to experiencing visions of worlds and new perspectives that otherwise could not be achieved in life. As a photographer my dioramas are simply a means to an end. They give me the ultimate ability to control my environments while satisfying a need to simply work with my hands. I approach my work with a final vision of a photographic landscape. Capturing moments of atmosphere, light, and perspective, my images become an orchestrated series of miniature events that culminate through the lens of my camera, deceptively evoking the sublime forces of Mother Nature.” (Chung, 2015).

Immediately Albanese cites his childhood experiences and the miniature worlds he inhabited during childhood play as the backbone for his current artistic practice and it seems for many that the miniatures role in finding the ‘self’ is what draws them to it, as Kendal Murray explains:

My work with miniatures came from my interest in the role fantasy plays in the creation of the ‘self,’ in psychological experiences such as memory and dreaming, and the different ways those experiences are embodied and given meaning. The miniature is used as a metaphor for our inner lives where fantasies of “selfhood” are enacted through dream-like situations. The dream externalized in the form of a miniature. We long to explore worlds represented in miniature, but are denied physical access. So we project ourselves into those scenarios, identifying with the personalities of the tiny characters, reading the implied relationships between each of the characters and investing our own desires, into the pleasurable outcomes of the stories being told“(Chung, 2015).

Murray sums up, much better than I had previously, the true role of the miniature whilst drawing several similarities with Bachelard. Much like the miniature kitchen, we can go further and further into putting ourselves into that scenario but we will never truly be able to inhabit it on a long term. We cling desperately onto that world for as long as we can.

With this in mind is it then possible that the flag pole is a projection of my own desire? Am I responding to a previous projection into the ‘mountain peaks’ of that dry stone walling? Upon my last successful climb did I demand that a flag be erected in honour of my achievement?

I am truly fascinated with the subject of the miniature and will continue to research and reflect.

Until next time,

Larry.


References

Chung, B. (2015) Miniature artists explain why they love making Tiny Worlds. Available at: http://thecreatorsproject.vice.com/en_uk/blog/miniature-artists-explain-why-they-make-tiny-worlds (Accessed: 19 August 2016).

Desai, V.N. (2013) Intertwined identities: Shahzia Sikander in conversation with Vishakha N. Desai. Available at: http://artasiapacific.com/Magazine/85/IntertwinedIdentities (Accessed: 19 August 2016).

Xuan Mai Ardia, C.A. (2014) Art in a suitcase: Is miniature art becoming a new trend? Available at: http://artradarjournal.com/2014/09/12/art-in-a-suitcase-is-miniature-art-becoming-a-new-trend/ (Accessed: 19 August 2016).

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