“I've always been interested in small things”, says Slinkachu. “My dad made me a train set when I was younger but I was never really interested in the trains, it was always the figures, houses and trees that fascinated me.” Now 32, the artist, born Stuart Pantoll, has spent the last six years shooting his miniature tableaux on the streets of London. Funny and touching, fantastical and unsettling, they put urban life under the microscope.
Slinkachu has gone global. Two new shows in London and New York and a book feature further-flung adventures. Paddy-field workers toil in the pools of a manhole cover in Beijing; a couple embrace in the snow beneath a giant (life-sized) CCTV camera in Moscow. “I wanted to go to places that on paper were very different,” he says. “But when you get down to street level, 2cm off the ground, you could be anywhere.”
Slinkachu began his series of Little People in 2006, as respite from his day job in advertising. Now his photographs sell for up to £6,500. “I didn't expect people to empathise with the characters so much. We have an innate pull to look after small things – kids, dogs, hamsters... People project their own feelings on to them.”
Once he has his shot, Slinkachu leaves his mini models to fend for themselves, with just a blob of superglue on each foot. Some last longer than others, but he rarely goes back to check on them. “There was one piece in Germany which had a cigarette in it. When we walked past it a few hours later, someone had taken the cigarette but had left the character. It was eerie.”
Andipa Gallery, London, to 27 October (www.andipa.com); 'Global Model Village' is published by Boxtree (12.99)