Gilliver’s Travels: Miniature figures used to create surreal images inspired by summer vacations

David Gilliver has used his groundbreaking art form for commercial campaigns such as 3, Sony and Adobe – but his main passion is making tiny representations of imaginary worlds.

He collects miniature railway figures from countries as far away as Japan and Singapore and sends them to an artist to have them painted to his own specifications.

They are then set up with other props – like butter cookies to create a version of Stonehenge, or a plastic remote control to resemble a family living room – and photographed.

Gilliver, who studied at the Glasgow School of Art, said the technique was copied by others trying to emulate his unique view of modern life and prints were sold at John Lewis.

He often uses fruits to create a landscape, including halved oranges and grapes, which look huge compared to the tiny figures.

(David Gilliver/SWNS)

Gilliver has been collecting Little People characters for decades, only really altering them to make them more diverse.

Many of his recent artworks have been created during the pandemic, when travel abroad has been restricted.

Vacations and travel are recurring themes in the artist’s 100 dioramas in 100 days

(David Gilliver/SWNS)

The series 100 Dioramas in 100 Days was created between January and April this year and shows happy scenes of tropical holidays and lots of vino.

Gilliver said lockdown is a perfect opportunity to come up with new ideas, including Shorthengeshowing believers at a stone circle made of shortbread.

Enjoy a glass of wine in one of Gilliver’s fantasy worlds

(David Gilliver/SWNS)

“Shorthenge” shows believers at a stone circle made of shortbread

(David Gilliver/SWNS)

Golfers use a keyboard for a putting green

(David Gilliver/SWNS)

One piece, Bathing in the sunshineshows a diver about to jump from a large slice of orange into a pool, while another shows the miniature figures urinating into a giant Irn-Bru can.

Others use technology as a background, with confiscation of the remote control shows a family sitting together on a tiny sofa, superimposed by a TV remote control.

Between January and April 2022, Gilliver created 100 artworks in 100 days, using the prospect of sunny holidays as inspiration for his artwork.

The artist transforms a can into an Irn-Bru toilet

(David Gilliver/SWNS)

“Hogging the Remote” shows a family on a tiny sofa

(David Gilliver/SWNS)

Gilliver, who lives in Gartcosh, North Lanarkshire, said: “I have always enjoyed the interaction that takes place between the 2cm figures and objects or props that we humans either use or consume in our daily lives.

“Many of the paintings have food as the main theme – this seems to be a recurring theme in my artwork over the years.

A light bulb becomes a hot air balloon above the clouds

(David Gilliver/SWNS)

“I’ve lost track of who I’m actually grocery shopping for – my family or the Little People?

“The time to shoot each diorama varied, but on average each shot probably took around two to three hours to set up, shoot and edit.

“Sometimes the hardest part is getting the lighting in the miniature scenes satisfactory, so I spend a lot of time getting that part just right.

A bike race over a tape dispenser

(David Gilliver/SWNS)

Characters of children playing in ball pools

(David Gilliver/SWNS)

“I can shoot any diorama 50 to 200 times before I’m satisfied that I’ve captured the scene the way I’m satisfied.

“You need a lot of patience”

Gilliver is exhibiting at the Glasgow Contemporary Art Fair at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum this weekend. Gilliver’s Travels: Miniature figures used to create surreal images inspired by summer vacations


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