Photographer creates summer scenes using tiny figures and everyday items

Glasgow-based photographer David Gilliver produced surreal images inspired by sunny getaways during lockdown.

Photographer creates summer scenes using tiny figures and everyday items SWNS via SWNS
Scots artist uses miniature railway figurines to create surreal images.

A Glasgow-based photographer has used miniature railway figurines along with household items to create surreal images inspired by sunny getaways during lockdown.

Dad-of-one David Gilliver, 42, has used his pioneering art form to create images for commercial campaigns including Three, Sony and Adobe – but his main passion is making his own artwork.

He collects miniature railway figurines from as far away as Japan and Singapore and sends them to an artist to be painted to his own specification.

They are then posed up with everyday props – such as shortbread biscuits – to create a version of Stonehenge, and a plastic avocado to resemble a sunbed.

Ice-cream scenes on hot summer's day.
Ice-cream scenes on hot summer’s day.

David, who studied at Glasgow School of Art, said the technique has been copied by others trying to imitate his unique take on modern life, and prints have been sold in John Lewis.

He often uses fruit to create a landscape, including oranges sliced in half, and grapes, which look giant in comparison to the tiny figurines.

Family settle down for some TV in 'Hogging the Remote'.SWNS via SWNS
Family settle down for some TV in ‘Hogging the Remote’.

David has collected the ‘Little People’ figurines for decades, and only really alters them to make them more diverse.

David, who lives in Gartcosh, North Lanarkshire, is exhibiting in the Glasgow Contemporary Art Fair in Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum this weekend.

David has collected the 'Little People' figurines for decades.
David has collected the ‘Little People’ figurines for decades.

Many of his recent artworks were made during the pandemic when foreign travel was difficult and involved a lot of hassle.

The series ‘100 Dioramas in 100 Days’ was made between January and April this year and depicts light-hearted scenes of tropical holidays and a lot of vino.

David's work depicts light-hearted scenes of tropical holidays and a lot of vino.SWNS via SWNS
David’s work depicts light-hearted scenes of tropical holidays and a lot of vino.

He said lockdown was a perfect opportunity to dream up new ideas, including ‘Shorthenge’, showing revellers worshiping at a stone circle made from shortbread.

One piece, ‘Bathing in Sunshine’ showed a diver about to plunge off half an orange, while ‘Tanning Salon’ showed a topless couple basking in the ‘rays’ from a plastic avocado.

Others used technology as a background, with ‘Hogging the Remote’ showing a family hanging out on a tiny sofa superimposed on a TV remote.

David collects miniature railway figurines from as far away as Japan and Singapore.
David collects miniature railway figurines from as far away as Japan and Singapore.

David said: “I have always enjoyed the interaction that takes place between the 2cm-tall figurines and objects or props that we humans either use or consume as we go about our daily lives.

“A lot of the images have food as the main subject matter – this seems to be a recurring theme in my artwork over the years.

“I have lost track of who I actually go food shopping for anymore – my family, or the Little People?
“The time to shoot each diorama varied, but on average each shot probably took something like two to three hours to set up, photograph and edit.

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

“I may shoot each diorama as many as 50-200 times before I am satisfied that I have captured the scene in a way I am happy with.

“A lot of patience is required.”