Super-sized was the way of the past. People used to want bigger, bolder, louder. Today though, it seems the trend is moving in the other direction. Now, what is drawing people in is the cuteness of the miniature. You’ll notice it in the not-so-subtle obsession of Frenchies, a pint-sized dog breed so ugly that they’re endearing, or the ridiculous recipe videos popping up on your Facebook newsfeed for a “miniature” bowl of spaghetti and meatballs (cute, yes, but I’m going to need like 1,000 of those…). The trend has even found it’s way into the world of art, and by association architecture. Case in point is artist Joshua Smith, who has made a name for himself by creating miniaturized versions of intensely detailed buildings.
Smith, a miniaturist, is based in South Australia. Before finding himself enthralled in even the smallest of details, Smith was a self-taught stencil artist. He was also the mastermind behind the Espionage Gallery, an art gallery that was based in Adelaide, South Australia, that over the course of its existence showcased the work of more than 600 artists from over 20 countries around the world. When his gallery closed in 2015, he took a different approach to his career, also using self-taught techniques. His new focus? Miniature works. According to the biography on his website, Smith focus is now mainly on “the often overlooked aspects of the urban environment such as grime, rust, decay, to discarded cigarettes and graffiti perfectly recreated in 1:20 scale miniatures.”
While his career focused on miniature works has been short so far, his work has already been seen by much of the world. So far, his miniature creations have been featured in places such as London, Paris, Berlin, New York, Sydney, and Melbourne.
Most of his work so far, though, has been inspired by three major cities: Hong Kong, Sydney, and Los Angeles. To study the inspirations for his work, Smith will take several reference photos that he can use throughout his creation process. His work is the epitome of mixed media, considering Smith often uses an array of materials such as MDF, cardboard, and plastic for the base of his mock buildings, paint and chalk pastels for the exterior, not to mention often the addition of wiring and lighting for some seriously meticulous and realistic detail. Speaking to his love of even the most minuscule aspects of recreation, he is quoted in My Modern Met as saying:
“I strive to create a reality. I take as many reference photos as possible to mimic every single streak of rust, grime, and chipping of stonework. I want viewers to be fooled, if I take a photo of the completed work in sunlight, to think it is the real thing.”
Smith’s latest piece of work, dreamt up for the VOLTA Art Fair in New York, is a replica of a four-story building in Kowloon. It was brought to life over the course of three months, with many 8-16 hour workdays in the mix. It looks perfectly worn, just as the original building does, capturing just what Smith’s intends to: the “current state of a once thriving but long forgotten space.”
All photos courtesy of the artist’s Instagram, which you can follow here: https://www.instagram.com/joshua_smith_street_artist/