These miniature books are among a couple dozen things—paintings, artist’s books, hopefully a pendant or three—that I’ll be putting into a group show of miniatures, The Goddesses of Small Things, later this month.
I have been trying to make only miniature works of art for the last few months, and I’ve arrived at the point where I must admit defeat. I find miniature art very hard to make! First of all, I am unable to come up with “miniaturized ideas” to go with the miniature formats; so making a painting or drawing that is 10 centimetres across is almost as taxing—emotionally, mentally—as making one that is 1 meter across. And yet, physically, the severely limited surfaces upon which I have to work are too small to fully explore those ideas in: I find that I have barely started making marks…and the thing is done! No more room!
I also found myself heartily agreeing with what Lesley Millar, as quoted in the article “Small is Beautiful” (Embroidery Magazine, Nov/Dec 2011), has said on the matter of miniature textile art (although the difficulties and criteria would apply to many other mediums):
‘Creating miniature textile art is not easy: it is so difficult to avoid the cute, or looking like a sample….The work must be entirely complete in itself, a work of art that is appropriate to its size, expressive of a particular concept, which through its size gives access to what Ayelet Lindenstrauss Larsen has described as a primary way of interacting with the world: the way in which we look at a beautiful seashell or a convoluted piece of driftwood…’
I do not know how to create a miniature art work that captures this ‘primary way of interacting with the world,’ although I know exactly what that feels like in relation to the seashell, or the piece of driftwood. A kind of ‘rightness’…a perfectly natural diminution, highly detailed, highly concentrated; not without dignity or integrity…possessing beauty in and of itself, and none of the cloying appeal that some things have simply because they are small versions of larger things.
Armed with all this, still I have not managed to produce anything I’m happy with. Yet. I’ve a few weeks left before the show, let’s see if I can come up with something closer to the demanding spirit of Millar’s miniature artworks. (That said, I can’t wait till all this is over and I can go back to normal-sized books and larger canvases…I need space to breathe and move around in!)
About these tiny books:
The first three pictured are accordion books, measuring 4 cm. tall and 2.5 cm. wide when closed.
The last photograph is of a tiny blizzard book, its pockets containing handpainted details of siphonophora, radiolaria, shells and jellyfish.
- The Miniature Art of Jean-Joseph Renucci (english.mashkulture.net)