Food miniatures offer some sweet street art

The grilled cheese stands alone. Photo from the instagram account Streetartminiature

Streetartminiature is an Instagram account where someone posts photographs of “realistic food miniatures hidden around the city. Tiny street art for the keen eye.”

The artist revealed in an email interview that she (or he) lives in Nepean, and his (or her) paintings have been displayed in “cafes and pubs across town.” Otherwise, “remaining anonymous allows me to blend in . . . and place miniatures without the worry of being spotted.”

Following is a transcript of our email chat, edited for clarity, length and such.

Q: You told me you don’t want your “gender, age, or occupation to impact a person’s perception of the project,” but isn’t the story of the artist a context for the viewer?

A: As a painter, I agree with you. But in the infancy of this project, I want to keep it pure in the sense that my story and experience aren’t relevant to the joy of finding a piece of miniature food hidden in the cracks of the city. I love the simplicity of it, and the mystery of who I am protects that simplicity.


Q: How did you conceive this project?

A: I took a graffiti and street art tour last summer in the Shoreditch area of London, England. I was so inspired that I wanted to become a part of street art culture. I had been making food miniatures for a couple of years, I just didn’t know what do with them. Then it hit me. I could place miniatures around the city and contribute to the street art scene in Ottawa.

Q: Given that inspiration, I hereby dub thee “Bunsy.”

A: Haha! That would be fitting, as I do tend to make more hotdogs and burgers than any other food miniature.

Q: How do you make a mini?

A: I blend coloured polymer clay to make the perfect shades. I use crumpled tinfoil, a toothbrush and a needle tool to create texture. To add shading and realistic tones, I use chalk pastel and a dry paint brush. If sauces are needed, like the mustard on the hotdog,  I use a product called TLS: Translucent Liquid Sculpey and mix with yellow chalk pastel powder. Then I bake the minis and glaze them.

Some cheesy goodness. Photo: Streetartminiature

Q: How do you choose a food to make?

A: I have a few favourites that I always keep at hand, hotdogs, burgers, pizza and lollipops. I try to pick foods that are easy to recognize and fun to make. Sometimes the season will inspire me. This past winter I made candy canes and gingerbread men.

Q: Why food? And how many pieces have you set into the cracks of the city?

A: There’s something funny about food. If I saw a miniature book stuck somewhere, I would think that’s cool, but a miniature grilled cheese is hilarious. It just speaks to me. Maybe it’s because we can all relate to food. There are about 170 minis out there

Q: Do you want people to take the minis? You leave hints on Instagram?

A: If someone finds one and laughs or stares in wonder, that’s all the reaction I’m looking for. I just want to add a little fun to someone’s day. I love it when someone finds one and lets me know by snapping a picture and tagging me on Instagram. Ideally, I would like them to be left for others to find. I have a few dedicated followers who have yet to find a mini. The hints are for them.

Stuck on wood. Photo: Streetartminiature

Q: I have an image of you skulking around the city at twilight, a cape pulled up to hide your identity, looking for a crack that’ll fit a tiny croissant.

A: That’s a great image. I carry them with me everywhere I go.

Q: Have you ever been caught planting minis?

A: There’s a diner in the Glebe that has bricks inside.  Typically, I won’t put minis inside an establishment, but this was too tempting. I placed a little cheeseburger between the bricks and continued with my meal. The waitress came over and saw it right away. Then she leaned in closer and said, “Is that a little cheeseburger?”  I said something along the lines of “Oh! Neat! How weird!” Her response was, “I’ll get rid of that later.” I’m not sure if she did remove it.

Q: How many minis do you place in cracks in an average week?

A: I’d say five to 10 per week. The project started in November 2016. I have no plans to stop at this time. In fact, I’m looking to take a trip soon and continue the project in another city. I would like to make my way back to Shoreditch.

Q: Maybe put a tiny piece of Ottawa comfort food — a beaver tail or poutine — in a crack in Shoreditch?

A: That’s brilliant. I will keep it in mind.

Q: I’ve helped to inspire Bunsy. My work here is done.



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Peter Simpson, a native of Prince Edward Island, was arts editor and arts editor at large for the Ottawa Citizen for 15 years, with a focus on the visual arts. He lives in downtown Ottawa with one wife, two cats and more than 100 paintings, drawings and sculptures.