Pereira has been creating miniatures since 2016.
Mitchelle D’Souza, Sub-editor/Reporter
Art reveals itself in various forms, shapes and sizes.
Big or small, it conveys its message just as beautifully. And this is the virtue by which self-taught Dubai-based miniature artist Ifima Pereira functions.
The artist, who admittedly loves all things small, has been crafting beautifully intricate and nuanced food miniatures for over four years.
Besides cultivating mini sculptures, the Indian artist wears other hats too — that of a graphic designer and illustrator.
Her Instagram page brims with a smorgasbord of mini food artefacts that look so unbelievably real, they’ll make you want to scoff them.
What began as a hobby, has manifested into a full-blown passion for the mother of a 1-year-old.
Start of a journey in art
Pereira says it all began when she was gifted air-drying clay by a friend, setting in motion her love affair with miniature artistry.
It was back in 2016 that she began moulding perfectly intricate figurines, recalls the 32-year-old artist.
“I made my first miniature somewhere in 2016. A friend of mine handed me a piece of air-drying clay and I was very intrigued by it considering I had only come across play dough or porcelain clay. I tried out my first piece and loved the fact that it dried out overnight and fell in love with it ever since,” she says.
The artist has always warmed up to the creative filed, having prolifically painted before dabbling in miniatures. She adores nifty articles and knick-knacks, with her inclination to curios due in part to her mother’s interest in miniatures.
“My mother used to be very fascinated with miniatures. She would collect these little tea sets and tiny cups. I remember her eagerly waiting for Dubai Shopping Festival to begin to be able to venture into the China village to buy her little mini sets. I think looking at these tiny things really fascinated me too and I unwittingly developed a liking for all things miniature.”
While the miniatures crafted by Pereira might seem easy to construct, it involves a lot of painstaking effort. Being nimble with your hands to get the minutiae right is key.
Although Pereira started off by making miniatures out of air-dry clay, she has begun experimenting with other forms of malleable material. Sharing a sentiment with artists around the world, she largely credits the COVID-19 pandemic for affording her the time to focus on trialling new methods.
“I started off by using only air-dry clay for all my pieces, but over time, I experimented with more materials. Of course, I have to give the lockdown due credit here, because of which I had more time to experiment with materials,” she gushes.
It was during the pandemic period that the artist discovered the versatility of polymer clay.
“In September last year, I attended a polymer clay workshop and this opened up a whole new world of possibilities in terms of textures and details. Polymer clay, as opposed to air-dry clay, requires baking to cure a piece. Once the piece is cured, it forms a solid hard durable piece. I do experiment with other materials as well to achieve the right texture,” Pereira explains.
But what made her gravitate towards food miniatures as opposed to other forms of sculptures? “For the love of food,” quips the artist hailing from the Indian state of Goa.
“I have a huge weakness for good-looking food. Food needs to be well-plated, which then makes you want to indulge in it. I’m no good at cooking but I can work my magic when it comes to miniature food making. I believe food presentation is an art as well.
“While I love sculpting all kinds of food, I am more drawn towards creating Goan food and showcasing the different kinds of food we have in my home state.”
Putting her art on a pedestal
Bubbling with talent, Pereira is looking for ways to unveil her art to a larger audience. In a first for the artist, her work was showcased at the Akaas Visual Arts gallery in Dubai’s Al Fahidi historical district last December. However, she hopes to widen her reach by exhibiting at more platforms and at a greater frequency.
“Miniature art is more of a hobby at the moment as I work a full-time job and have a 1-year old toddler, so I have my hands full. Nonetheless, I try to squeeze in some time in between my packed routine.
“There are days when my mind is bursting with ideas but just not enough time. I do keep a note of all these ideas and work on them when I do get a chance. I do have a few plans and ideas in the pipeline so let’s see where it takes me. I would love to exhibit my work more and probably venture into pop-up stalls,” signs off the hopeful artist.
Haafiza Sayed is also a trained interior designer and has worked extensively in this field in the early days of her career.
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