In conversation: Joshua Smith


Image: Artist and co-curator of QVMAG’s Miniature Worlds exhibition, Joshua Smith

When QVMAG approached internationally renowned miniaturist Joshua Smith to co-curate an exhibition based on miniature sculptures, it touched on an idea that Smith had been considering for many years.

“[Senior Curator] Ashley Bird contacted me about a year ago,” Smith recalled. “He pitched the idea of doing a miniatures exhibition – which is something that I’d actually been thinking about doing for ages.

“I’ve gotten to know hundreds of miniaturists worldwide, following their work and their social media. And so, I’d discussed with my wife for a long time: it would be great to have an exhibition where all these talented people from across the world can come together and showcase their work. Ideally, it would be great if I could get to meet all the others involved as well!

“But just to have all that work, in the same room, at the same time? To be able to have the means to do that? I jumped at the chance.”


Image: Joshua Smith’s The Olympia Milk Bar is also featured in the Miniature Worlds exhibition

Working in the arts for over 20 years, Smith began as a self-taught stencil artist in South Australia and progressed to director of the Espionage Gallery in Adelaide. Yet, it was through his stencil work that he moved into miniatures.

“I did an experiment of sorts,” Smith said. “I made a miniature building and put a stencil onto it. And something twigged. I was like, ‘There’s something here.’

“The next miniature I built was more focused on the miniature aspects, rather than anything else. And then, it sort of just snowballed from there.”

Smith gained his first breakthrough as a miniaturist through an exhibition in Melbourne, which led to being picked up by a New York art gallery. “It was really surreal,” he said. “I’d always wanted to show in New York. And when that came to fruition... it was just a surreal experience.”


Image: Joshua Smith’s detailed airbrushing and paintbrush work perfectly depicts its real-world counterpart

Now having worked with miniatures for over 8 years, Smith’s sculptures have been embraced by the worldwide miniature art community. His artwork focuses on depicting urban decay and the often-overlooked aspects of our environment, including grime, rust, discarded cigarettes, and graffiti.

Smith’s piece developed for QVMAG’s Miniature Worlds exhibition, entitled Birchalls car park loading dockfaithfully recreates the vibrantly coloured graffiti of the real-world location. Viewers will be astounded to consider the detailed graffiti has been painted with paintbrushes and airbrushes: “It’s taken years of practice,” he said with a grin.

Smith is keen for audiences to visit Miniature Worlds. “It’s something that will appeal to a range of audiences. There are so many different aspects − for anyone interested in dolls' houses, to those who like model train sets, or just miniatures in general.

“I think this is probably the first time a miniatures exhibition, of this scale, has happened in Australia.”

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