Tiny pop-up store shows Brighton shoppers a world in miniature

Curious shoppers browsing Brighton’s winding lanes have been peering in the windows of a tiny pop-up store, eager to catch a glimpse of the strange scene taking shape inside.

This festive season, more than 40 urban artists have covered train carriages, railway signs and brick buildings in graffiti – and yet it all fits into a tiny store in Dukes Lane.

Big names in the urban art scene – including Goldie and Maxim from The Prodigy – have each contributed colourful and often political pieces, most of which fit in the palm of your hand.

The one-of-a-kind exhibition in the East Sussex city is the brainchild of Pam Glew and Emily Paxton, who sent each artist one piece of a model train set and asked them to make it their own.

Brought together, the unique hand-painted pieces form a dystopian diorama featuring everything from a love train and Tesco to a Ronald McDonald sign saying “You’re going to die”.

Ms Clew, one of the curators, said: “The exhibition aims to reflect a microcosm of urban life and celebrate the raw talent of so many talented artists whom typically work on a much larger scale.

“It’s aiming to have these big ideas on a teeny-weeny shop in Brighton.

“The exhibition shrinks everything down to a micro scale, simultaneously encouraging the viewer to look even more closely at the tiny details of urban life.”

Emily Paxton works on her exhibition
Emily Paxton works on her exhibition

Together, the curators form PaxtonGlew, which aims to curate immersive exhibitions by emerging and established artists, bringing art to new audiences and celebrating the diversity in new contemporary art.

More than forty urban artists have contributed to Urban Miniatures, including Australian pop surrealist Ben Frost, real-life train-writer Remi Rough, street art stalwart Pure Evil, political painter and Dismaland star Tinsel Edwards and local boy Eelus – Brighton’s own international muralist.

Also starring in the gallery is pioneering musician Goldie, who painted a model rail carriage and turned it into a love train.

Another famous name represented in miniature is Maxim, vocalist for Essex electronic dance music giants The Prodigy, who painted a high-rise building.

Ms Paxton, fellow curator for the pioneering show, said: “Graffiti doesn’t have to be this negative thing, it can be really positive.”

Urban Miniatures exhibition
Urban Miniatures exhibition

She described how some of the inspiration for the show came from their experiences as mothers, as both have boys who like train sets.

South London street artist Remi Rough said: “It was a bit of a challenge to paint something so small and make it look big, but I got there in the end I think.”

The Urban Miniatures gallery and shop offers other original artworks, limited edition prints and designer gifts by each of the contributing artists, which will also be available online.

Meanwhile, miniature-themed workshops including wreath-making, terrarium-making, cyanotype and furoshiki gift wrapping with block print will be offered by the curators.

The pop-up launched on Saturday and will run until December 22.