Broccoli as trees, and other miniature works of art by Tatsuya Tanaka

Posted at 5:43 pm, September 4, 2015 in Art


Do you ever have moments when you imagine an everyday object representing something else entirely? Broccoli as trees, Rubik’s Cubes as stained glass, mechanical pencils as towers… Apparently Tatsuya Tanaka has had moments like this 365 days in a row, for the past five years. He also takes his ideas one step further, scaling them down into a Miniature Calendar.

He was first encouraged by an Instagram follower, who saw one of his works and mentioned that he’d love to be able to see something like this every day. Hence, the idea merged into a calendar and the rest is miniature history. Since 2011, Tanaka has posted a new mini-creation on a daily basis, featuring familiar situations recreated small-scale with day-to-day objects such as toothbrushes. ‘Two years in, the work was almost like an addiction and I never thought of quitting,’ he says.

Tanaka derives inspiration from everyday life and takes notes constantly on his phone (with an app called OmniFocus) so he doesn’t forget any ideas. Everything from a material he’d like to use to a small hint that can trigger his creativity is noted down and stored in categories, to keep things organised.

Currently, he’s aiming to expand the scope and depth of the miniatures (not in actual size) by making his own dwarf figures, which he positions in ingenious ways. And he is always open to new ideas: at his latest exhibition in Kagoshima, he asked visitors’ opinions, and intends to do the same for his forthcoming exhibition in Osaka.

In addition to providing viewers with an ‘aha’ moment, Tanaka hopes the photos will make you ‘realise that a tiny change in our point of view will create lots of fun’. Most of the dioramas are easily recognisable, while others may take a bit of decoding. The key? We would say a sense of Japanese culture. Because in Tanaka’s world, sumo wrestlers have their bout on dumpling skins and green straws rustle like bamboo trees.

Images courtesy of Miniature Calendar

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