a marvel of miniatures
I am fascinated by the phenomenon of miniaturisation, and what it means to human beings. It has existed since prehistoric times, yet is present in almost everyone's lives today. It is pan-cultural, and has been present in the history of every corner of the globe, from the icy world of the Inuit to the equator and on every continent (apart from Australia?).
In the modern world, miniatures as so common as to be seen as mundane, unremarkable elements of everyday life. Almost every home has at least one miniature on a shelf somewhere. Yet miniatures are special in that they very rarely serve a utilitarian purpose — we don't acquire them to do anything else but to be displayed and looked at (or played with). They therefore possess two sets of meanings: the meanings given them by their manufacturers/makers and those given them by those who possess them.
I am especially interested in mass-produced miniatures. Mass production that began in the nineteenth century meant that miniatures became available to all, and subsequently started to appear even on the "humblest" mantelpiece. People have always bought them because they "like" them...they are objects of desire. But they are not just colourful, emptily-decorative gew-gaws.
As symbols on display, miniatures can convey to others messages about their owners; taste, status, humour, sexuality, faith, political leanings, resistance etc. To their owners they can communicate nostalgia, eroticism, memory, fun, fantasy, sentimentality etc.As a historical archaeologist I am trying to learn what miniatures can tell me about what people were thinking in the recent past, and therefore I'm interested in what miniatures mean to people today.
The subject of my recent MA dissertation was The historical archaeology of miniatures. Toys, trifles and trinkets re-examined. This section allows me to share some "overmatter" — material that I couldn't quite squeeze into it! I'm also sharing some of the research I'm carrying out in working on my PhD.