HUNDREDS of miniscule paintings and sculptures are coming to Johannesburg in a first-for-Africa exhibition.
The sixth World Federation of Miniaturists exhibition runs from February 17-21, at Hyde Park Corner shopping centre.
"We are so honoured to be hosting this event. I don’t think this will happen again (in SA)," says artist Daphne Carew of the Miniature Art Society of SA.
The exhibition is held in a different city every four years, says Carew.
Miniatures from SA, Bangladesh, Russia, Malta, the US, UK, Canada, Australia and other countries will be on display. Carew says some potential exhibitors were put off by the cost of courier services in a country in which the Post Office is not trusted to deliver on time, sometimes at all.
The artworks are mostly representative, highly detailed and tiny — the rules stipulate that no piece can be bigger than 170mm². "Nothing can be more than a sixth of its real size, although there is some leeway with insects," she says. Most artists use a magnifying glass to complete their work.
Miniature art has become a collectable, with a large market in the US.
Carew says she used to paint larger pieces but got hooked on the challenge of making miniature art when she picked up a small piece of paper and painted. "I could do it on my lap, it was so fascinating," she says.
"Miniature art is the second-oldest form of art after cave art," says Carew.
Examples of small or miniature art can be found going back more than a thousand years and in cultures and artistic traditions from around the world.
• The sixth World Federation of Miniaturists exhibition, February 17-21, Hyde Park Corner shopping centre, Johannesburg