The Tyranny Of ( No ) Distance


Overseas readers must forgive the title – it is a play on a standard phrase used by Australians to complain about living in Australia. We are mostly far away from where it’s all happening , and when we get closer to it, it moves away. In reality this is a blessing – most of what is happening is troublesome. But on to more important matters: scale models.

OurĀ recent scale model exhibition was in the Cannington show hall and was well attended. Well, I attended,…and had a very good time. I spent money and met new people and looked at some wonderful models. But I was troubled with the way that the work of the modellers was set out – I don’t think that the standard way of exhibiting them does them justice.

Let me also add that I think this can be the case for some of the other miniature hobbies, though not to the same extent. Let me explain.


Scale models come in all sorts of scales – anywhere from 1:400 to 1:4. They are dictated by moulding machine sizes and markets as much as they are by artistry. Enthusiasts for any particular sort of model from any particular period are very lucky if the manufacturers of the kits have agreed upon a common scale – 1:72 or 1:35 say. The chance to work for years in one scale and add models from different nations must be a wonderful thing – particularly wonderful if the models are of contemporary devices. A person can then develop an accurate overview of the subject.


But at a general exhibition there will be models that people are proud of in many different sizes, and of as many different subjects as can be found on the hobby store shelf. They are well-made and painted beautifully, and then necessarily placed side by side and front to back on the display tables. I love ’em individually, but hate ’emĀ en masse. The effect is a jumble that detracts from the individual work.



Yet…what is to be done if there are so many to display and so many categories to see? Frankly, I’m stumped, but I would welcome a more ordered approach. The Super Model Car Sunday ranks the models in two or three tiers on long trestles with a white paper backing. I dislike the paper as a confusion for automatic light metering systems in flash cameras, but once you do the adjustments it provides a constant canvas to show the artistry. Note, here again there is too much crowding, but no-one should be denied…


The doll house ladies put their dioramas on trestles with a cloth cover, but each house is a separate entity and they rarely clash.


I think that the competition models got a better stage – but of course there were fewer of them. It was nice to be able to stalk around and see the exhibits from several sides.


I am almost tempted to suggest a combined exhibition of large scale model trains and plastic models where the exhibits are hauled around the hall on a giant railway like a modellers sushi train. New ones come out all the time and old ones are parked in back of a partition. Stranger things have happened.

Note: as a photographer, the best idea I have ever had for display of 120+ images was a laptop and a digital projector on a loop timer. it presented my work and advertisements spectacularly for several hours at a dance show. It’s rare that you can get the facilities to do it, but it might also be a way to present the modeller’s work to a wider audience.