AI9_6_2017_3_14_34_AM_joshua_mi.jpg
Big Bang fireworks Company model

Within three years, Joshua had mastered the craft and ascertained himself as a successful miniaturist. Photo Credit: Eli (Cigarettes Might Kill You)

Republic Dumpster model

“There is something that appeals to me about the grittiness of it all. I love the urban decay of things such as rust, grime and general decay. I see a sort of beauty in it and see it as a visual layering of time”. Photo Credit: Andrew Beveridge/ASB Creative

Based on 23 Temple Street, Kowloon, a busy suturing street in the heart of Hong Kong

Photo Credit: Andrew Beveridge/ASB Creative

Joshua looks into his model

Joshua relies on himself to create references in the form of detailed photographs of the buildings from different angles, picking out components that stand out. Photo Credit: Andrew Beveridge/ASB Creative

The Posters stuck on the 23 Temple street, replicated as is, in the model

“I wanted to create something that would be a massive stand out piece. Months later it is still a work that I am especially proud of and still known for.” Photo Credit: Andrew Beveridge/ASB Creative

The Chinese take out shop, a part of the 23 Temple Street model

His attention to detail is brought out in the form of simple, thoughtful additions like the takeout packets on the terrace, from the Chinese restaurant below. Photo Credit: Andrew Beveridge/ASB Creative

The 23 Temple Street model, lit up

Photo Credit: Andrew Beveridge/ASB Creative

Cecil Walker Cycles
AI9_6_2017_3_14_34_AM_joshua_mi.jpg
Lab 04 Sep 2017

Meet Joshua Smith, the artist shrinking our cities into urban miniatures

Walking through our fast paced lives in cities, we often miss out on the tinier details that go into the making of its character and soul. Be it the clothes hung to dry outside the windows, stubs littered outside the small cigarette shops, half-done graffiti adorning the walls, or the rusty slow decay of the metal rolling shutters, Joshua captures it all in his miniature models, with a certain allure that makes every model simply enchanting.

Joshua Smith started his journey as a self taught stencil artist, practising the same for about 17 years. During this time, his close connect with the world of art urged him to establish his own art gallery, the Espionage Gallery, set in Adelaide, South Australia. Joshua refocused his love for art into the Espionage for four years, bringing in and showcasing artists, both emerging and established, from all over the world. 

Big Bang fireworks Company model

Within three years, Joshua had mastered the craft and ascertained himself as a successful miniaturist. Photo Credit: Eli (Cigarettes Might Kill You)

Closing the gallery in 2015, led him to begin experimenting with miniaturism as an art form. Three years later Joshua had mastered the craft and ascertained himself as a successful miniaturist, showcasing his work in galleries and art fairs across London, Paris, Berlin, New York, Sydney and Melbourne. 

The Concept of Urban Decay

His long years of work as a stencil artist, fuelled his understanding of and amusement with the perception of urban environment and the intricacies that come with it. “There is something that appeals to me about the grittiness of it all. I love the urban decay of things such as rust, grime and general decay. I see a sort of beauty in it and see it as a visual layering of time,” he says, explaining his tryst with the concept. 

Republic Dumpster model

“There is something that appeals to me about the grittiness of it all. I love the urban decay of things such as rust, grime and general decay. I see a sort of beauty in it and see it as a visual layering of time”. Photo Credit: Andrew Beveridge/ASB Creative

The Process

The elaborate procedure of putting together a miniature model begins at selecting the perfect space to recreate. Joshua uses Google Maps to cruise through the cities as he looks for his muse. Explaining this, he says, “There is usually something about a particular building that screams out to me, it might be the signage, the rust or just the colours of the building.” 

Based on 23 Temple Street, Kowloon, a busy suturing street in the heart of Hong Kong

Photo Credit: Andrew Beveridge/ASB Creative

Often he relies on himself to create references in the form of detailed photographs of the buildings from different angles, picking out components that stand out. But in times of need, he counts on an Instagram following of over 40k people to help him with thorough references.

The idea and extent of detail demanded by the projects prompts Joshua to dig deeper and look beyond the surface of the building. His meticulous research involves understanding the building’s various functions, its past and its present context which then leads him to form a wholesome picture of the structure. After this, he proceeds to revive it in a 1:20 scale. 

Using medium-density fibreboard also known as MDF, cardboard and paper as his preliminary apparatus,  he sets to work, typically for about two to three months at a stretch. The final built form is then set to be adorned in paint and finished with weathering pigments. 

Joshua looks into his model

Joshua relies on himself to create references in the form of detailed photographs of the buildings from different angles, picking out components that stand out. Photo Credit: Andrew Beveridge/ASB Creative

The 23 Temple Street model

In March 2017, Joshua showcased his work with Muriel Guepin Gallery in New York and at the VOLTA Art Fair in New York City. He created the 23 Temple Street model specifically for the VOLTA Art Fair, his biggest exhibition at the time. 

The model, which Joshua refers to as his ‘masterpiece’, was created over a period of three months where he worked about 8 to 16 hours each day, often seven days a week. Explaining his process, he says, “I wanted to create something that would be a massive stand out piece. Months later it is still a work that I am especially proud of and still known for.” 

The Chinese take out shop, a part of the 23 Temple Street model

His attention to detail is brought out in the form of simple, thoughtful additions like the takeout packets on the terrace, from the Chinese restaurant below. Photo Credit: Andrew Beveridge/ASB Creative

Based on 23 Temple Street, Kowloon, Hong Kong, the odd support structure on the ground floor and the awning at the side of the building is what initially called out to him. The 1:20 Scale Miniature is made out of MDF, Wood, cardboard, plastic card, chalk pastels, spray paint, wire, and plastruct, and is built entirely from scratch, thus  also being known as a Scratchbuilt model. His attention to detail is brought out in the form of simple, thoughtful additions like the takeout packets on the terrace, from the Chinese restaurant below. 

The Posters stuck on the 23 Temple street, replicated as is, in the model

“I wanted to create something that would be a massive stand out piece. Months later it is still a work that I am especially proud of and still known for.” Photo Credit: Andrew Beveridge/ASB Creative

A Look at the Future

Continuing his venture as a miniaturist, Joshua is presently focused on working on a pile of commissioned work for clients, including a miniature of the Nylex Silos in Melbourne. He says he will also be working on a batch of new miniatures based on locations in Hong Kong and Taiwan, giving us a fair deal to look forward to. 

The 23 Temple Street model, lit up

Photo Credit: Andrew Beveridge/ASB Creative

 
Cecil Walker Cycles

The article gives you a brief glimpse into Joshua Smith’s career and work. Check out more of his work on iknowjoshuasmith.com.
You can also follow him on Instagram, and stay updated with his work on the go.