About Miniatures



The art of the miniature is many hundreds of years old. In the Western world the earliest examples can be found in the illuminated capital letters of church manuscripts. The letters were often decorated in pure gold leaf and around them were pictures of everyday life or religious or biblical scenes.

Miniatures have a serious history throughout the world. They are often combined with poems or religious verse in countries such as Iran and India. There is also a long history in Russia.

Throughout history the portrait miniature became important as a record of loved ones and this is still what many people think of when a miniature is mentioned. These tiny portraits, often oval in shape, could be of a face, or more particularly, an eye or mouth. They often contained a back panel which carried a lock of hair. They are very much part of the romantic tradition.

Every detail of a miniature is noticed and a well executed miniature has been described as having the quality of a jewel.

Australia has a long history of the miniature form from our earliest days to the present and our libraries and State Galleries have fine collections.

Modern Miniatures

Today there is tremendous interest in the art form throughout the world and it encompasses many different mediums and subjects.

In 2015 the winning work of the Wynne landscape prize (Art Gallery of NSW) was a 9 x 9cm miniature painting by Natasha Bieniek.

What is a Miniature

The definition for this Society for a 2-dimensional work is that the perimeter of the actual art work must not exceed 40cm (eg 10cm x 10cm,  or any variation of this size eg 12cm x 8cm). All works must embrace “the spirit of miniaturisation”.

A three dimensional work must not exceed 15cm in any direction, and the front cover of a miniature book must have a perimeter of no more than 40cm. Books should be entirely handmade by the artist.

Subjects are only limited by the artist’s imagination.

A miniature can convey all the beauty and power of a larger work of art but has the added appeal of being a particularly personal object. The viewer must see the work at close range to obtain a full appreciation of both the image and technique. The miniature has always had a feeling of preciousness associated with it, due in part to the fact it can often be held in the palm of your hand.

These are guidelines and any exhibition submissions are subject to the entry rules.

Media and Techniques

The Society fosters both traditional and contemporary art, realist and abstract.

A visitor to an exhibition of works by the Australian Society of Miniature Art will be aware of an amazing diversity of style and technique within the boundaries of the art form.

Painting: Mediums such as (but not restricted to) oil, acrylic or watercolour are executed on any surface.

Drawing: Original drawings in (but not restricted to) pen and ink, graphite pencil, coloured pencil, charcoal and pastel, on any surface.

Original Prints: All prints must be original works of art, and must have been hand pulled by the artist.

Mixed Media: A combination of techniques and mediums used together. The images can be three dimensional and can include found objects (eg seedpods or pieces of metal).

Three Dimensional: A three dimensional work must not exceed 15cm in any direction and the front cover of a miniature book must have a perimeter of no more than 40cm. Books should be entirely hand-made by the artist.

We do not as a Society omit any medium as excellence in the chosen medium is paramount.

See also Tutorials

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