Gilliver’s Travels: Miniature figures used to create surreal images inspired by summer vacation


David Gilliver has used his pioneering art form for commercial campaigns such as 3, Sony and Adobe – but his main passion is creating tiny representations of imaginary worlds.

He collects miniature railway figures from as far away as Japan and Singapore and sends them to an artist to be painted to his own specifications.

They are then posed with other props – such as shortbread cookies to create a version of Stonehenge, or a plastic remote control to look like a family living room – and photographed.

Gilliver, who studied at the Glasgow School of Art, said the technique was copied by others trying to emulate his unique view of modern life, and prints were sold to John Lewis.

He often uses fruit to create a landscape, including halved oranges and grapes, which look giant compared to the tiny figures.

(David Gilliver/SWNS)

Gliver has been collecting “Little People” figurines for decades and only really modifies them to make them more diverse.

Many of his recent works were made during the pandemic, when overseas travel was restricted.

Vacations and travel are recurring themes in the artist’s 100 dioramas in 100 days

(David Gilliver/SWNS)

The 100 Dioramas in 100 Days series was made between January and April of this year and depicts light-hearted tropical vacation scenes and lots of vino.

Gliver said the lockdown was a perfect opportunity to dream up new ideas, including Shorthengewhich shows the faithful in front of a circle of stones made of shortbread.

Enjoy a glass of wine in one of Gilliver’s imaginary worlds

(David Gilliver/SWNS)

‘Shortenge’ shows worshipers in front of a stone circle made of shortbread

(David Gilliver/SWNS)

Golfers use a keyboard for a putting green

(David Gilliver/SWNS)

A play, Bathing in the sunshows a diver about to jump from a large slice of orange into a pool, while another shows the miniature figures urinating into a gigantic Irn-Bru box.

Others use technology as a backdrop, with Hang the remote control showing a family sitting together on a tiny sofa, superimposed on a TV remote.

Between January and April 2022, Gilliver completed 100 works in 100 days and used the prospect of a sunny vacation as inspiration for his works.

The artist transforms a can into an Irn-Bru toilet

(David Gilliver/SWNS)

“Hugging the Remote” shows a family on a small sofa

(David Gilliver/SWNS)

Gilliver, who lives in Gartcosh, North Lanarkshire, said: “I have always enjoyed the interaction that occurs between the 2cm tall figurines and the objects or accessories that we humans use or consume in our daily life.

“A lot of the pictures have food as the main subject – it seems to be a recurring theme in my work over the years.

A light bulb becomes a hot air balloon above the clouds

(David Gilliver/SWNS)

“I’ve lost track of who I’m shopping for, my family or the Little People?

“The shooting time for each diorama varied, but on average each shot probably took between two and three hours to set up, photograph and edit.

“Sometimes lighting the miniature scenes satisfyingly is the trickiest part, and so I spend a lot of time getting that part right.

A bicycle race on a tape dispenser

(David Gilliver/SWNS)

Figures of children playing in ball pits

(David Gilliver/SWNS)

“I can shoot each diorama up to 50 to 200 times before I’m satisfied that I’ve captured the scene in a way that works for me.

“It takes a lot of patience.”

Gliver is exhibiting this weekend at the Glasgow Contemporary Art Fair at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.


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