Strange Worlds: Miniature Condiment Landscapes
Spicy aliens, furry fields, and how a domestic accident can spark creative genius.
By Maria Popova
There’s hardly a greater feat of creativity than portraying something ordinary through something mundane, to a cumulative effect of pure whimsy. That’s exactly what 26-year-old artist Matthew Albanese does in his fantastic — literally — Strange World series, incredibly detailed small-scale models of emotive landscapes made out of unusually usual everyday materials.
It all began in 2008 with an appropriately mundane domestic accident.
One day I knocked over a tub of paprika. As I was cleaning up the mess I began to daydream and found I was playing with the paprika more than cleaning it up. I thought it was a great shade of red and it reminded me of Mars. So I figured I would bring Mars to me. I went out and bought 12lb of the pungent spice and created my first landscape – ‘Paprika Mars’. My studio smelled of paprika, but ever since then I have been interested in finding new materials and pushing myself to find out through experimentation what they could represent in my models.
Through immaculate lighting and meticulous curation of tactile materials — faux fur for grass, cotton wool for clouds, bottle brushes for shrubs — Albanese creates uncannily realistic miniature worlds of wonder.
Perhaps most remarkable is Albanese’s incredible art of perspective — in less than three feet of length, he manages to evoke a sense of immensity and vastness, transporting you to heart of these whimsical landscapes.
Albanese’s work reminds us of Matthew Carden’s Small World series of miniature food landscapes, with a hint of David Trautrimas’ Habitat Machines.
Explore the full Strange World series and let your jaw drop even further with the impressively laborious making-of.
Published February 4, 2010