We're Passionate About Inspiring Others
The owner of The Doll’s House Art Gallery had always loved tiny things; The Borrowers, Sylvanians, Scalextric, model villages.. She inherited a doll’s house from her late mother in 2016 that was handmade in the 1950s by her grandfather, whom she never met. She discovered that it was a cathartic way to connect with her history and memories and that she really enjoyed renovating and personalising it, she bought another in 2017 with the intention of combining a new hobby with her passion for arts for wellbeing. Life got in the way… Then in 2020, a pandemic happened! And The Doll’s House Art Gallery was founded in August 2020, with aims to entertain, distract and boost the mental wellbeing of anyone who wanted to get involved, including making or promoting art or visiting.
An open call for artists saw artists from as far away as Texas submit work! In December 2020 it housed the “Christmas at Home” installation as part of Levenshulme Community Christmas Windows art trail #LevyXmas
The original idea was for the gallery to tour small galleries and venues in Greater Manchester, complete with artwork or artwork added to it, which may still happen in the future. The pandemic inspired the idea of window exhibits.
Sharing of artists is done as often as possible by the volunteer gallery team online to try to help artists fulfil their dreams! The team are artists themselves and are aware that mini work is still work and that some people already sell miniature, also of the pressures of selling artwork and the pandemic’s impact on livelihood. The gallery is not trying to profit (yet!) other than trying to share artist’s work online, and bring a bit of fun and colour to Levenshulme!
Want to connect with us? Want to collaborate? Contact us on Instagram,
Facebook @TheDollsHouseArtGallery or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Q&A with Lisa Fitzgerald, Gallery Manager
and Jo Fountain for Locked in Light #SignedTimes
Why did you open a tiny gallery?
I’ve always loved tiny things, model villages, Sylvanian Families, doll’s houses and particularly The Borrowers, making small things from human sized things.. At first I wanted to open a tiny gallery because of my love of miniature. I work in a full-sized art gallery and visit them frequently, I create miniature art myself and have previously created window displays so perhaps they all just came together.. Also, having enjoyed (and finished) renovating an heirloom doll's house made by my grandfather and left to me by my mother, I felt I wanted to start another project. I bought a doll's house, but life interfered and I didn't have the motivation for it until the pandemic began. In March 2020 I decided that I needed to force myself to take on a (at least in part) offline creative project that connects people. I wanted it to make me smile, and others too. I also hoped it could be a way to inspire and promote artists and locals during a difficult time. I think there is something special about miniature, not just because it's cute or impressive when people create in miniature. it's like another world, maybe it's something to do with having an outside perspective.
What do you exhibit?
As of November 2020 the gallery is exhibiting artwork received after an open call. Pieces were sent to us by people from mostly Manchester, around the UK, and even Texas, USA! It is a varied mix of work from photography and video to sculpture, paintings and craft. There is also a mini "shop" of tiny homewares and stationery. As the gallery is currently in a bay window, its future could be for it to get its own perspex frontage and then house further opens, solo exhibitions, seek local business partnerships, run related workshops, tour other venues and possibly earn money as a not-for-profit artist space. It would be great to enable organisations to use their imaginations to promote their work within it.
What do you wish you had known before you opened your gallery?
That curating a tiny exhibition isn't actually much less work and time than a full-sized one! There is quite a bit of time for admin and marketing required too. And always remove patterned wallpaper before painting it white!
What is the best thing about running a tiny gallery?
Providing a safe and engaging activity during a time when people are mostly housebound has been quite rewarding, seeing local people tag their friends and get excited about it online. Hearing whoops of delight and awe - I think the fact that the art is miniature is particularly impressive to "non-artists", and children and dreamers are enchanted by the miniature aspect alone. I am really happy to have been able to bring art to my community of Levenshulme when many venues have been forced to close. Also just getting to look at tiny art; what's better really, other than tiny cats looking at tiny art?
What advice would you give someone starting a tiny gallery?
It's a good idea to troubleshoot your "business" model! Do a risk assessment and have systems in place. Be passionate about it. If you're not and it's going to fizzle immediately, wait until you are! Do your research and have a unique style and story that captures people's imaginations. I think it's fine to want to include your own work, but don't just do it for yourself... Inspire, engage, have fun!
Interested in opening your own Micro Gallery? Buy the Tiny Cat Gallery's manual!