Source: NYT (8/19/23)
Recreating a Bygone China, One Miniature Home at a Time
China’s rapid economic growth has meant the demolition of countless rural homes, and a burgeoning nostalgia. That’s where the miniaturists come in.
By (Reporting from the studios of several miniaturists in Hebei and Shandong Provinces)
Not long after Shen Peng’s grandfather died, his grandmother visited the site of the house where she and her husband once lived. The government had demolished the house, in northern China, nearly 15 years before as part of a redevelopment project. The site still hadn’t been developed, and she could barely walk around the family’s old plot because the grass was so overgrown.
Mr. Shen wondered: Could he help her relive her memories another way?
For more than six months, he labored in secret after his day job as a hairdresser. Finally, Mr. Shen, now 31, presented his grandmother with a surprise — a handcrafted 1:20 scale replica of her old home.
There was the wire clothesline in the courtyard, draped with a blue blanket cut into the size of a postage stamp. There was the rickety bicycle, outside a shed constructed with foam boards and plaster. Mr. Shen had even traveled to the site of the old house to better recreate the fragment of brick wall that still remained.
The project led him into a small but growing community of artists in China filling an increasingly urgent demand: miniature replicas of homes that have been demolished, remodeled or otherwise swept away by China’s modernization. Continue reading