Street art is usually larger than life, whether it’s a multi-story mural or a poster wheat-pasted across a sidewalk utility box. It’s bright, it’s bold, and it’s vying for your attention in a bustling urban environment full of other distractions. It might be carried out under the cover of night old-school style or officially commissioned by local authorities, splashed across multiple massive building facades. But rarely does it ask you to kneel down, get in close, and take in tiny details.
A new exhibition called Urban Miniatures takes the kind of street art you’ll commonly find in places like London, New York City, Lisbon, and São Paulo and literally shrinks it down. The curators took a Hornby train set and a collection of tiny (like, really tiny, not shed-tiny) houses, and asked a lineup of 40 well-known international graffiti, urban, and contemporary artists to customize each piece, producing “a subversive model city.”
Needless to say, this isn’t your average miniature Christmas village or museum diorama. Each diminutive work bears the tell-tale stamps of the artist who customized it, and if you’re familiar with street art, you’ll recognize some right away. There’s an optical illusion mural from Peeta, black-and-white wheat pasting by DONK, and abstract geometry by Mark McClure.
There’s something really fun about zooming in to examine a high-rise or bodega that can fit in the palm of your hand and taking in all of the practically microscopic details, like graffiti tags, trash, the weathered edges of an old sign, and the texture of the tiniest cobblestone wall. The train cars are especially cool, including an NCB freight car customized by TinyScenic to include a swimming pool, floats, lounge chair, and palm tree. Plus, the train set actually runs along its tracks at the show.
The full roster of artists also includes Adam Bridgland, Ange Bell, Art+Believe, Ben Allen, Ben Frost, Candice Tripp, Carl Cashman, Chum101, Cosmo Sarson, Dave Buonaguuidi, David Bray Frea Buckler, Jerome White, Jo Peel, Maxim, Katrina Russell-Adams, Louis O’Haara, Louis Masai, Pure Evil, Regman, SheOne, Shuby, Static, Tim Fowler, Tinsel Edwards, Victoria Homewood, Will Barras, Zevs, and many, many others.
You can see the Urban Miniatures show in person now through December 22nd, 2019 as part of the Artists Open Houses Christmas Festival in Brighton, England, or check out featured works on Instagram. To support individual participating artists, check out the PaxtonGlew online store, which includes limited edition prints, models, and more.
PaxtonGlew consists of duo Emily Paxton, a photographer, educator, and creative, and Pam Glew, an international textile artist. This show marks their curatorial debut.
The duo’s official website notes: “Emily and Pam met in 2004 in Brighton, where they worked as Photography and Art technicians. Since then they have remained good friends, worked as educators, started families, and continued their creative careers. Emily is a freelance photographer and lecturer who has curated pop-up exhibitions and taught numerous people their way around a camera. Pam has exhibited internationally as a textile artist and has been commissioned by brands including Armani, Ralph Lauren, and Microsoft.”