Created by 34 artists, they are now on display in an exhibition titled Masterpieces in Miniature: The Model Art Gallery 2021 through Spring 2022 at Pallant House Gallery.
The works are displayed alongside two earlier model galleries, The Thirty Four Gallery and The Model Art Gallery 2000, which include original works by Bloomsbury Group artists such as Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant; surrealists like Paul Nash; pop artists including Sir Peter Blake and Richard Hamilton, and YBA Rachel Whiteread. Together, the three model galleries form a “time capsule showcasing over 80 years of British art across more than 80 original works of art in miniature form”, as the gallery puts it.
Available to view is a range of media including sculpture, ceramics, photography and painting. Among the smallest coins are the size of a pound coin, and none exceed 20 cm.
“At the height of the first lockdown, artists couldn’t get to their studios, exhibitions were canceled and many people spoke of being creatively blocked,” says Simon Martin, director of Pallant House Gallery. . “Inspired by early model galleries, I wrote to some of Britain’s leading contemporary artists asking if they could be part of a project to create something positive out of the pandemic.
“Most artists usually work on a large scale and were excited by the challenge of condensing their ideas into a miniature work of art and being part of such a unique history of modern and contemporary British art. We want the model art gallery 2021 be a way to inspire children and young people and get them interested in contemporary art.”
Standing at a delicate 9cm is Maggi Hambling’s expressive nude; while Damien Hirst scaled down one of his famous spin paintings to just 13cm wide. Going hard on the miniature theme, Lubaina Himid managed to create a collage at just 1.5cm, and Tacita Dean created a ghostly 15cm blackboard drawing of a ship. John Akomfrah fills an entire model room with a photographic triptych evoking his multi-screen film projections.
Pallant House Gallery presents itself as a “collection of collections” of modern British and contemporary art. “Together, these models will provide a fascinating insight into changing styles and influences over the decades, and show how different generations of artists have approached the unique challenges of working in miniature,” says the gallery.
The Model Art Gallery 2021 was designed by architects Wright & Wright. After its presentation at the Pallant House Gallery, it will be presented in other museums and galleries in the United Kingdom.