In conversation: David Hourigan


Image: Melbourne-based artist David Hourigan at QVMAG.  

Melbourne-based miniaturist David Hourigan delights in the logistical challenges of creating small-scale buildings and objects.  

Hourigan’s largest piece to date is a recreation of the Gasworks building on Willis Street in Launceston, commissioned for QVMAG's Miniature Worlds exhibition at the Art Gallery.  

"I came to Launceston about five months ago and looked for inspiration,” Hourigan recalled. “I saw the Gasworks and knew immediately it was what I wanted to create; I fell in love with it." 

"It's a complete labour of love,” he added. “It took about two months to build, and it's the largest one I've ever made. I know it doesn't make sense to say it's the largest miniature, but it's the biggest I've done." 

As an artist, Hourigan utilises some unorthodox materials in his creations to replicate real-world objects and features.  "For example, the ladder rungs, up the side of the chimney, are made from staples," he said. 

"Also, when I was making the conveyor belt, I realised I needed to have tiny, round wheels; and I was thinking, how do I make hundreds of 4mm round wheels?  

"And I decided - sequins! I'll order some sequins! So, there are these glamourous copper shiny sequins. I painted them to look rusty, and now they look like rusty conveyor belt wheels! 

"One of the things I love about making miniatures is that there's always something to think about. How am I going to achieve this? How am I going to make this thing? And with this one, how will I make 100 or 200 of them?  

"That's part of the job I love—trying to come up with solutions to random problems." 


Image: Miniature recreation of the Gasworks building in Launceston, Tasmania by artist David Hourigan. 

Hourigan has created miniatures throughout his life but became a full-time miniaturist five years ago.  

"I built miniatures for a very long time, and I built a lot of things that didn't really have a lot of significance to me - planes, cars, tanks," he said. 

"One day I had a realisation—there are so many buildings in the area that I love that are in danger from falling down or being knocked down for development… just totally unloved.  

"And I thought, ‘These buildings mean something to me. I want to take the skills that I've learned and put them to use, to do something that's relevant’. 

"I try not to be luddite about it. I try not to think, 'you can't replace old buildings, you have to preserve them and leave them'. I realise that progress happens.  

"But part of what I do is capture them before they're gone. I capture a moment in time and preserve it in 3D before it's lost.  

"To me, that's quite important." 


Image: Miniature recreation of the Gasworks in Launceston, Tasmania by miniaturist artist David Hourigan. 

Hourigan's work, replicating existing structures in small scale, has allowed him to view the world from a unique perspective.  

"The beauty and interest for me is that you see things in a different way," he said.  "When you look at a miniature, you're looking at it from above. You'll see the roof. You'll see things that you'd never see from street view.  

"And that's cool - to change that perspective of things that you might walk past every single day. 

"The other thing is, you start thinking in a sort of, 'what would that be like to make a miniature of' kind of way.  

"You'll look at a building and think, 'That would be a good miniature, this thing would be easy to make… but this would be quite difficult… and there would be real challenges with this awning, or these windows…'  

"It very much changes your perception of the world around you." 

Miniature Worlds is on display at the Queen Victoria Art Gallery at Royal Park until 4 February 2024.