Updated: Oct 30
To Gwenan Bain, small is most definitely beautiful.
In her world, people are two inches tall at most and should feel at home standing on a pebble. They may be watering flowers made of tiny glass beads, reading books the size of lentils or taking microscopic dogs for a walk. Whatever they're doing, they all have one thing in common. They're made entirely of fine wire.
Gwenan began creating her miniature wire sculptures a couple of years ago after making one for a friend. Someone saw a picture of it and gave Gwenan her first commission. Soon she was getting lots of orders.
"It's strange really," says Gwenan, "my mother also makes wire sculptures, but they're huge! I really love working out how to get the tiniest details right. I'm often asked to make miniatures of peoples' friends so I have to recreate particular features like clothes, hair-colour or someone's favourite pet. It's always a real challenge. It takes me anything from one to three hours to make a figure often using tweezers as my tool. I do sometimes go cross-eyed. Last week I was having to make hair by curling wire around a pinhead!"
Gwenan usually mounts her work on pebbles or stones found on long walks along the Cardigan coast in West Wales where she was born. She returned there for a while during lockdown and found herself looking for new inspiration.
"Each beach I go to brings something different as the stones are particular to a local area. I usually go for nice flat pebbles which always make a good base, but recently I've been seeking out more interesting shapes and textures and exploring what they might bring to a scene."
In fact it's creating the 'scenes' that really interests Gwenan. "I'm actually a theatre director and stage manager by trade and I love positioning my little people and getting them to interact well together. It's important that they create a narrative - things like their body language and their gestures really matter to me. It's just like directing in miniature really, except that these actors can't answer back!"
Buy Gwenan's work from Made in Greenwich and check out her Instagram page @in_miniature_arts