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Inside the world's most delightful dolls' houses


Barbie, eat your heart out. There's not a glimpse of pink plastic among the small but perfectly formed exhibits on display at the Kensington Dollshouse Festival, May 11 - May 13.

Humans have been making tiny replicas of their surroundings for at least 5,000 years, and while dolls' houses are commonly viewed as children's playthings, for many adult enthusiasts the houses and the furniture that fills them are objects of beauty, the result of hours of painstaking dedication.

An opulent fireplace created by Sue Cook

The London festival - a pilgrimage for minature enthusiasts since 1985 - will host thousands of visitors and 170 exhibitors this weekend.

Known as miniaturists, the artists can spend hours on just one tiny object, made at 1:12 scale, like the stunning interior, above, by Lucy Askew.

Jose Gomez gives Louis Vuitton a run for its money, above.

Mila Jovovich and Helena Bonham Carter are among celebrity fans of the art, with Jovovich admitting to being the proud owner of nine dolls' houses.

Festival organiser Charlotte Stokoe told Stylist, "The great thing about the dolls' house is that people recreate entire themed houses, every detail of life and are very obsessive."

She described the miniaturists as a mixed bag of "quirky and some very conservative", telling of how one visitor, a Count from the Balkans, attended the show dressed as a vampire.

While many dolls' houses do have a gothic theme, modern creations can embrace even the most modern interiors and objects.

Workshops being held at the exhibition vary from the general assembling and finishing of mini furniture to the extremely specialist, like "Learn how to make an [miniature] Edwardian beaded bag."

For London miniaturist José Alesón, the "exquisite clutter" of the Victorian era holds an unwavering fascination, evident in his project, Victoriana, pictured below.

The Spanish-born artist works in a bank, but spends every spare minute he has perfecting his stunning creations.

Alesón records his progress on his website and believes dolls' houses are "never finished." "There's always something to change or to try," he writes.

"Everytime,I use the brass knocker installed outside the house to get in, it takes me back to 1900, a travel in time that I enjoy."

Did you/do you own a dolls' house? Let us know your thoughts on these tiny creations in the comments section below, or show us your dolls' house pictures on Twitter.

Words: Anna Pollitt. Pictures: Kensington Dollshouse Festival, José Alesón.


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