LOS ANGELES – The ongoing pandemic has upturned many lives, but some have been taking advantage of the situation and using the down time to follow their passions.
Kieran Wright, originally from New Zealand, has always had a passion for miniatures and model making and over the past several months he has been combining his artistic skills with his love for the city of Los Angeles, the results are small-scale wonders.
Wright was working in the airline industry when the pandemic hit and like many he was forced to take another path when he was furloughed.
“The pandemic came along. I needed something to fill in my time and I'd always been interested in making models and miniatures and decided to give it a go one day,” said Wright.
Wright’s latest piece is a 1/24th-scale miniature of Fugetsu-Do, an historic confectionery shop in Little Tokyo.
Wright said when he first came to L.A. he immediately became fascinated with its architecture and saw an opportunity to combine his passions by creating these strikingly detailed recreations of iconic spots like the New Beverly Cinema, Tail o’ the Pup, Tiki Ti, googie diners and Fugetsu-Do, which since 1903 has been a beloved part of L.A.’s Japanese-American community.
“I was driving around seeing unusual places and architecture and going to iconic businesses and just like really absorbing the place,” explained Wright. “This my way of just paying homage, tribute to a city that I love.”
Wright is a self-taught artist and only started making his creations when the pandemic hit, and part of what drives him is preservation. With L.A.’s urban landscape changing so rapidly, many buildings are now falling into disrepair, or disappearing, like the Morgan Camera Shop on Sunset.
“It had vintage cameras and things still in the windows even though it was essentially abandoned,” Wright said.
Wright stopped by the real Fugetsu-Do to show off his newly completely scale model to the staff there, and to pick up a box of mochi. Wright is donating his model to support the Little Tokyo Small Business Relief Fund, helping businesses affected by the pandemic.
“It’s really important to make sure that like these legacy businesses stick around for years to come in the face of so many challenges,” Wright said.
Wright has a long list of future projects and hopes to improve his skills along the way and said, “Sometimes it takes a pandemic to follow your passion and do something you love and take that risk.”
Kieran Wright says more people are starting to take note of his work on social media and he is now even taking commissions from collectors who also want to preserve a little piece of L.A..
Wright's work can be found on Instagram at @smallscalela