Big eyes will be on small art during Armies on Parade exhibition

Get out your monocles and tiaras, because a big exhibition is looking to showcase small works of local art over the next few weeks.

Armies on Parade is a competition hosted by Event Horizon Hobbies in Midland throughout February, with prizes voted upon for the best entries in painted miniature dioramas.

“At its core, Armies on Parade is a celebration of our community’s very best in tabletop creativity,” said Sarah Lahaie, co-owner of Event Horizon Hobbies.

“It’s a showcase of the painters, the diorama builders, and the artisans we have that are normally put to the waysides of nerd-dom, and aren’t usually brought to the forefront of fine arts. And we’re trying to change that.”

Dioramas are miniature depictions of still life, capturing a moment of time within a scene; within the realm of gaming culture, genres like science fiction and fantasy can also be contained due to the amount of miniature figurines and models that are normally used for games themselves. Most often, the pieces are unpainted to allow creativity from the owner in expressing what colour a character’s hat is, or the stylized emblem of a fictional army regiment; the imagination knows no bounds.

“It started with the European painters,” said Lahaie.

“The people who were doing a lot of these board gaming and hobbies who decided they wanted to push the level and go to the nth degree – painting metallic armour without using metallic paints – they’re employing the same techniques that the old masters would have to create these beautiful representations of armour, but doing it on a 3D surface.

“We’re just trying to elevate and show that this hobby can be considered a fine art in its own right.”

Participants have been asked to keep their entries limited to a group of at least five miniature models within 28-to-32 mm, and displayed on a diorama between 25-by-25 cm up to 30-by-45.5 cm in size; however, Lahaie encouraged participants to use “verticality” to their advantage.

Popular genres include Dungeons & Dragons for fantasy, Star Wars: Legion for space warfare, Hail Caesar for a historic Roman empire setting on Earth, and Lahaie’s personal favourite genre of steampunk through the Malifaux miniatures. Also encouraged for the competition is the use of customized 3D-printed miniatures, and recycled or upcycled material from within the home.

On March 11, the diorama entries will be put on display within the store in the style of an all-ages public art unveiling.

“We’re going to treat it like a formal art exhibit; we’re going to have hors d’oeuvres (and a special ‘mocktail’ hour). And then there’s going to be in-person voting for the models, and that is open to the community for the entire event. At the end of the event, the top three with the most votes will take away the grand prizes,” Lahaie stated.

Prizes will be given to all entrants, but for the top three a choice will be offered from the following: Warhammer 40K: Eldritch Omens ($239 value); Bolt Action: Battlefield Debris, Wrecked House and Stone Walls ($137 value); Black Sails: Master and Commander Starter Set ($131 value); The Army Painter: Speedpaint Starter Set and Masterclass brush ($78 value); and Age of Sigmar: Timeworn Ruins ($70 value).

Entry for the event is $50 plus HST, which pays for a starting kit of Game Master XPS foam sheets and instruction guide for each participant with the remainder of the fee to go toward prizing. All entries will also contribute in-store points to the top prizes as well.

Limited registration will continue depending on the availability of remaining starting kits.

Lahaie added, “If you want to come in jeans and a t-shirt you are going to be more than welcome, but we definitely want this – especially with the pandemic, there’s been so few reasons to get dressed up – so why not come out and support your local artists and dress up at the same time.”

Event Horizon Hobbies is located at 845 King Street, units 7-9. Further information on Armies on Parade is available through the store’s social media pages or by phone at (705) 245-0110.

Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,