Nottingham’s first non-white miniature artist is an international student at Nottingham Trent University. And, some believe, she is presently the only Indian miniature artist in the UK  

In India, artists never get their due. When I tell people that I’m a miniaturist, they laugh at my work, don’t understand the value of the art form, and advise me to do something that will provide me more financial stability — tears well up in the eyes of Esha Bijutkar, Nottingham’s first-ever non-white female miniature artist, as she shares her ordeal.

The 24-year-old Business graduate from Nottingham Trent University realised that it is important to follow a beaten path that will initially give her economic independence and the power to continue to follow her passion. So, Esha joined the Business school at NTU and in the small single-roomed apartment at Nottingham’s city centre, she created her own miniature world, quite literally.

A miniature dinning table with food and cutlery                                                                        Image credit: Esha Bijutkar

“I create doll house miniatures in the scale 1:12. They are collectables; not something that you can play with. They are made of clay and wood, so they are quite durable and the chance of them breaking is also minimum,” said Esha.

Miniature art is time consuming and the beauty of it lies in its details. Esha, who has created Nottingham’s Arboretum, Victorian doll houses and food miniatures such as pizzas and pastries, says that it takes her about 18 to 20 hours per day to create one piece. “I worked for three days, 18 hours each, to make the Arboretum,” said Esha.

The Nottingham artist believes in the concept of recycle and reuse. All her products are handmade with scrap material. “Generally, I use clay and wood and scrap for making these items. I always keep collecting spare stuff and if I find anything useful, I incorporate it in my work. To make a miniature like the Arboretum, it would cost about 50 GBP,” said Esha.

“I like to challenge myself. Most miniature artists have a specialisation. Some make scenery, some make food miniatures. I don’t limit myself. You tell me to make anything, and I will create a miniature of it. I don’t even repeat my creations. Every miniature art piece that I create is single and unique,” she added.

Esha’s passion received encouragement when she visited London’s miniature fair, the Kensington Doll’s house Festival, and met fellow miniaturists. “I went to London and met other artists. I showed them my work and they were extremely impressed with it. Presently, I’m the only Indian miniature artist in the UK. They even invited me to exhibit my work next year. I am really looking forward to it,” said Esha.

Esha Bijutkar shows how a miniature art is created in the video below:

For every struggling artist, the support of their family makes a lot of difference. And, Esha says that she feels fortunate to have parents who have been her driving force since the beginning of this journey. “It was my mother who first asked me to make fairy garden accessories and that’s when it all started. I realised that I could make other doll house items and began to explore this genre,” she said.

Neha Bijutkar, Esha’s mother, who has been her pillar of strength, said, “I have always pushed her to follow her heart and she makes me proud now. It’s extremely satisfying to see her creativity. There is immense hard work involved in this work and only I know it because I see her doing it day and night. This art form is expensive. We have to get the raw material from different places which is quite costly and my only concern is if Esha wants to take this up as a full-time profession, it should fetch her enough money to sustain her life.”

Esha’s father, Kiran Bijutkar, says that since miniature artists are rare in India, Esha didn’t receive proper guidance or learning. He said: “She is a self-taught artist and what amazes me is the eye for detail that she has for every product. She uses different kinds of stuff to make them. I have seen her use even chocolate and medicine wrappers, plastic packets and other waste material to create these miniatures.”

Miniature art is not much recognised in India, but that is not the case in the UK. “Almost every household has a miniature doll house here. People are aware of the art form. In India, people have a big question mark on their faces when I talk about miniatures. You have to begin from the scratch by explaining what the art form is about,” said the brown-eyed girl.

Esha says that miniature is a niche art form and requires much hard work. And considering the time and exhaustion it demands, the money earned is meagre. “The money that one gets is very less compared to the hard work one puts it. However, if you get commissioned for it, good money can be earned.  As of now, I am just hopeful,” said Esha.

Every year, many aspiring artists, who dare to walk the untrodden path, succumb to the pressures of life’s necessities and give up their passion. They are forced to join the herd in search of a ‘settled’ life. This 24-year-old Indian woman artist is trying to break that glass ceiling. Will she succeed? One has to wait and watch.