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20140929052740-tundra_1a_-_blog 20140929052804-tundra_1b_-_blog 20140929052825-tunrda_2_-_blog 20140929052507-skyscraping_1_-_blog 20120924225658-skyscraping_l 20140929052549-skyscraping_2_-_blog 20140929051500-fantastic_voyage_1a_-_blog 20140929051523-fantastic_voyage_1b_-_blog 20140929051544-fantastic_voyage_2_-_blog
'rak'rüm (noun);
the back room of an art gallery
where artists and art lovers hang
20140929054510-into_the_wind_shoot_moscow
Tundra, SlinkachuSlinkachu, Tundra,
Liverpool Street area, London, 2008
© Courtesy the artist
Tundra, SlinkachuSlinkachu, Tundra,
Liverpool Street area, London, 2008
© Courtesy the artist
Tundra, SlinkachuSlinkachu, Tundra,
Liverpool Street area, London, 2008
© Courtesy the artist
Skyscraping, SlinkachuSlinkachu, Skyscraping,
Brooklyn Bridge Park, New York, 2011
© Courtesy the artist
Skyscraping. Brooklyn Bridge Park, New York, USA., SlinkachuSlinkachu,
Skyscraping. Brooklyn Bridge Park, New York, USA.,
2011
© Slinkachu/Andipa Gallery
Skyscraping, SlinkachuSlinkachu, Skyscraping,
Brooklyn Bridge Park, New York, 2011
© Courtesy the artist
Fantastic Voyage, SlinkachuSlinkachu, Fantastic Voyage,
Acton, London, 2011
© Courtesy the artist
Fantastic Voyage, SlinkachuSlinkachu, Fantastic Voyage,
Acton, London, 2011
© Courtesy the artist
Fantastic Voyage, SlinkachuSlinkachu, Fantastic Voyage,
Acton, London, 2011
© Courtesy the artist
Fantastic Voyage Sketchbook, SlinkachuSlinkachu, Fantastic Voyage Sketchbook
© Courtesy the artist
The Last Resort, SlinkachuSlinkachu, The Last Resort, 2011
© © Slinkachu / Andipa Gallery
The Last Resort, SlinkachuSlinkachu, The Last Resort,
Wandsworth, London, 2010
© Courtesy the artist
The Last Resort, SlinkachuSlinkachu, The Last Resort,
Wandsworth, London, 2010
© Courtesy the artist
Into the Wind, SlinkachuSlinkachu, Into the Wind,
Bolshoy Moskvoretsky Bridge (Red Square, Kremlin), Moscow, 2012
© Courtesy the artist
Into the Wind, SlinkachuSlinkachu, Into the Wind,
Bolshoy Moskvoretsky Bridge (Red Square, Kremlin), Moscow, 2012
© Courtesy the artist
Into the Wind, SlinkachuSlinkachu, Into the Wind,
Bolshoy Moskvoretsky Bridge (Red Square, Kremlin), Moscow, 2012
© Courtesy the artist
Hanging On, SlinkachuSlinkachu, Hanging On,
Mong Kok, Kowloon, Hong Kong, 2011
© Courtesy the artist
Hanging On, SlinkachuSlinkachu, Hanging On,
Mong Kok, Kowloon, Hong Kong, 2011
© Courtesy the artist
Hanging On, SlinkachuSlinkachu, Hanging On,
Mong Kok, Kowloon, Hong Kong, 2011
© Courtesy the artist
Bank Balance, SlinkachuSlinkachu, Bank Balance,
Chiswick, London, 2013
© Courtesy the artist
Bank Balance, SlinkachuSlinkachu, Bank Balance,
Chiswick, London, 2013
© Courtesy the artist
Bank Balance, SlinkachuSlinkachu, Bank Balance,
Chiswick, London, 2013
© Courtesy the artist
Slinkachu, A Trip to the Corner Shop, 2012
© Courtesy the artist
Slinkachu, A Trip to the Corner Shop, 2012
© Courtesy the artist
Sustainable Living, SlinkachuSlinkachu, Sustainable Living, 2011
© Courtesy the artist
Sustainable Living, SlinkachuSlinkachu, Sustainable Living, 2011
© Courtesy the artist
The 'Little People Project' started in 2006. It involves the remodelling and painting of miniature model train set characters, which I then place, photograph and leave on the street. It is both a street art installation project and a photography project. The street-based side of my work plays with the notion of surprise and I aim to encourage city-dwellers to be more aware of their surroundings. Th...[more]


RackRoom
Life in Miniature: An Interview with Slinkachu

London, Sept. 2014: Slinkachu’s captivating miniature street interventions, made of remodeled figures from train sets, strike a contrast with most other art in the public space. While many street and graffiti artists are all about bigger, louder, and bolder, the UK artist’s tiny, almost unnoticeable scenes are a quiet statement about our environment, and about the solitary nature of fast-paced city life – his ‘Little People’ are literally overwhelmed by the urban space. In his clever juxtapositions, bog roll turns into a ski-slope, a bottle top is a jacuzzi for teeny topless women, a dog poo is transformed into a mock mini crime scene. Using banal everyday objects, human detritus and trash left by city dwellers, Slinkachu gives a visual commentary on city life, with moments of humour, gripping awe and heart-pulling loneliness.


Slinkachu, In To The Wind - Bolshoy Moskvoretsky Bridge (Red Square, Kremlin), Moscow, 2012; Courtesy of the artist


Charlotte Jansen: How much have your surroundings affected what you do now?

Slinkachu: I grew up with a fair bit of freedom to play outside as I lived in a quiet, safe town sandwiched between the sea and countryside [in Devon, South West England]. I used to want to be an archeologist (and could apparently tell people that, with correct pronunciation, at four years old) and I spent ages digging around and generally exploring. The thought of finding hidden things has always excited me. Couple that with a fascination with small bugs and animals and you can probably see where my obsessions come from. Moving to to London [12 years ago] had a big impact on me as I was suddenly living in a big urban area with few friends around me and there is a certain loneliness that comes with that. I love living in the city though, as much as I sometimes miss the countryside. All this feeds in to my work.

CJ: You’ve said that your ideas just come from thinking, people-watching and reading the news. Your work relies quite a lot on clever juxtapositions – putting certain everyday objects together to give them a new perspective – where do these ideas come from to transform objects? Do you use any references?

S: I don’t use many references to make my work. I keep sketchbooks that I fill with notes and ideas and most of these come from viewing items and the environment around me. I’ll often have in mind a theme that I want to explore – and this may come from the news for instance – but the presentation of that really stems from thinking about and exploring the city. Most of my work isn’t very spontaneous – I plan all the figures and situations in advance – but when I come to shooting, I am often finding locations by chance so the photography will depend on what I find and the weather and time of the day.

CJ: How long does it take to create a piece, on average?

S: Most of my time is probably spent brainstorming ideas. The figures themselves are customised train set figures that I cut up, stick back together and paint to suit the situation I want them to be in. That process will take a few hours depending on the complexity and size of the installation. When I place the figures on the street and shoot them, I will usually head off to a particular part of the city and scout the location which may take a few hours until I find the right place. Then the setting up and photographing of each installation takes a couple of hours. I shoot a few hundred shots of each installation with tiny adjustments in focus and angle until the scene comes to life. It’s very easy to shoot a miniature plastic figure stuck on a pavement, but I’ve found it is a lot harder to shoot it and imbue life and emotion in to it. That’s usually my aim.

CJ: Do people really ever spot your installations in the street? How long are they left up for?

S: In the past some installations have been found. The ones I hear about are usually when people recognise the locations from my photos and go out to find the figures. I like to think that others get discovered by people who stumble on them and have no idea who put them there. But for me the abandonment of the figures and their subsequent isolation – the fact that they are lost – is what I love about what I do. Whether they are ever found or just go unnoticed and end up stepped on is something that I prefer to leave a mystery. Occasionally I will pass a location and check to see if the figures are still there. More often than not they are gone. The longest that one has stayed up for, to my knowledge, is one that I placed on a traffic island in Wandsworth. That lasted five months, which is probably a record.

 

 

Slinkachu, A Trip to the Corner Shop, 2012; Courtesy of the artist

 

CJ: Will you ever use anything other than the Preiser train sets?

S: Preiser, a German company founded in 1949, make the best train set figures. The detail is incredible and their characters are modelled on real people. I visited the company HQ a few years ago and met the owner and got to see the factory where the figures are made. It sounds a bit geeky, but I loved it. I couldn’t stop taking pictures! Although Preiser figures come in a bewildering range of styles and poses I still need to change them to fit the situations that I need so I cut them up and repose them. The figures are designed for train sets after all, not for real life cities.

CJ: Did you start out working on the installations and photography at the same time from the start, or did one stem from another?

S: The installations started first, in the summer of 2006. Originally the project was purely about leaving figures on the street. I was working as an art director at an ad agency at the time and wanted a creative activity outside of my day job. The hobby became a bit of an obsession and I taught myself photography to record the installations.

CJ: You’ve had a lot of mainstream press – which demonstrates how much the public enjoy and connect with what you do – has it been a help or a hindrance to what you do?

S: Definitely a help: I would not have believed that my work would have got so much attention. Like I said, it really was just a little hobby at first. If anything the interest in my work made me view what I was doing in a different way. That people of so many different ages and backgrounds around the world could respond to my photography and the themes in my work made me want to explore those themes further and teach myself how to take better shots. I am fascinated by how people interpret my images and what they take out of them – often conflicting interpretations. Loneliness and isolation though – those feelings of ‘being small’ and overlooked – are universal I think.

It is great to see people inspired by my work too. I get a lot of emails from people, often students and young people, who are studying my work in art classes and trying out model making and photography. I get a lot of pleasure from knowing that I may have kickstarted someone’s creativity.

CJ: What do you think it is that people like so much about miniatures?

S: I’ve thought a lot about this over the years. I think people have a natural empathy towards small things. It’s a nurturing instinct perhaps, like we experience with babies and pets. We want to protect these little things. I take advantage of that in my work; I want people to feel this empathy towards my characters and perhaps project themselves onto the figures too. There is an element of play too and I try to incorporate humour in my work to an extent. At the end of the day, I am playing with toys and secretly I think everyone wants to experience that childlike feeling again. So perhaps there is some nostalgia there too.

 

 

Slinkachu, Fantastic Voyage sketchbook - Acton, London, 2011; Courtesy of the artist

 

CJ: Are you a fan of other artists working on a small scale, like Pablo Delgado, or the photographer Lori Nix? Do you ever collaborate with other artists?

S: Most of my favourite artists don’t actually work in miniature. I tend to be attracted to artists that explore similar themes that I am interested in rather than the technical aspect of using miniatures. I like things that explore ‘urban melancholy’, how the city affects us. I love Edward Hopper’s paintings and the work of cartoonist Chris Ware. De Chirico’s paintings fill me with emotion. Recently I discovered Marc Trujillo who paints amazing urban scenes. Gregory Crewdson’s photography is also a favourite of mine.

Having said that, Lori Nix’s miniature scenes are incredible, and there are definite parallels there – she creates in miniature what I try to find in real urban environments. There is a palpable sense of desolation and abandonment in her work. Pablo’s work is closer to the technical side of what I do rather than the themes – the placing of the cutouts and the discovery for passers by is obviously important to him.

There are some people who are trying to do almost exactly what I do now, leaving train set figures on the street and photographing them, which I find a bit disheartening as I like to see people do something new rather than just copy something. My favourite ‘miniature street artists’ are probably Isaac Cordal who casts concrete figures that have a stark beauty to them, and Evol who uses miniature stencils of windows and doors to turn electricity boxes in to flats and tower blocks. Not a ‘street artist’ but a miniaturist: I love the work Tessa Farmer who uses insects and small animals in her work. And the photography of Pierre Javelle and Akiko Ida, which combines miniature figures and food, is brilliant. They’ve also been imitated a thousand times, but their work is the best of this kind without a doubt.

 

 

Slinkachu, What Brings Us Together and What Keeps Us Apart - Grottaglie, Italy, 2009; Courtesy of the artist

 

CJ: You’re often refered to as a street artist – how comfortable are you with the labels given to your work?

S: My work covers a few different areas such as photography, sculpture and installation. I think for this reason I don’t mind labels too much as I’ve never really had a single specific one. Street art and photography are the two I use most to describe what I do as they are the easiest short-hands to help people understand. I think some ‘street artists’ often have a hard time coming to terms with showing their work in a gallery but as a big side of my art is the photography and a natural place for this is up on a wall I’ve never had a problem with this. That said, some of my installations would make no sense if I set them up in a gallery. They only have relevance on the street with that interaction with the environment.

Having a few different labels is nice in a way as my work gets viewed in a lot of different contexts. For instance, I was just featured in the book ‘The World Atlas of Street Photography’ alongside such greats as Jeff Wall. I’ll get posted to Reddit in a comedy context, cited as a model maker or featured in a fine art magazine. Occasionally I’ll be linked by a ‘miniature fetish’ site (both for people who like the idea of miniature women or like to imagine themselves as being miniature themselves and dominated by ‘giants’. Yes, those are real fetishes, microphilia and macrophilia respectively!)

CJ: What projects are you working on now / do you have coming up next?

S: My next solo show should be early 2015 at Andipa Gallery in London, so at the moment I am busy making and shooting a lot of new work for that. Unlike my last show and book ‘Global Model Village’ which was shot in different cities around the world, this new work will be shot mostly in London. I will also have work on show at Christies’ Multiplied exhibition in October this year.

 

Charlotte Jansen

 

 

 

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