Monday, 13 June 2016

The Power of Models

Model making is a funny thing - for most model makers, it's a solitary pursuit. Most of us are amateurs and we do it for relaxation, maybe to stimulate memories and for our won enjoyment. In most forms of model making there are shows where people can show their work to like minded souls and preaching to the converted is always easy. But sometimes models can have a wider purpose, be educational and connect with 'normals' in a way that other media simply cannot.

We visited the Royal Armouries in Leeds a couple of weeks back. It's about eighteen or so years since I visited and Suzi hadn't been before - a bonus Saturday off saw us pick somewhere different for the day. On exhibit which I noticed (among many...) was the model of the Battle of Agincourt. You can view it up close but you can also view it from the balcony above which gives you a sense of scale and scope of the model, but it also allows you to take a step back and watch how people interact and view the diorama. Up close the standard of the modelling is good, although the trees are not as good as we might aim for with our own models but this doesn't matter - when you watch how people of all ages take time to look, observe and take in the scene from all angles you see how powerful a model can be. Information panels and artefacts all have their place in helping to tell a story such as this. It helps visitors understand what is being recounted. And people didn't look briefly either for the most part; people lingered, used the different little viewing windows and took time to really take it all in. The sheer number of figures gave visitors a sense of the vast numbers of real people who would be involved in a battle - the figures cease to be just models, but represent lives gone by and for many it depicts the last day of their lives.

To produce a model which can appeal to our emotions and cause us to take the time to absorb the scene is quite something - it shows how powerful model making can be. Now, our models and layouts don't show quite such dramatic scenes, but if we can begin to engage those viewing our models in quite the same way then our modelling can become more than a sum of parts and something much bigger and maybe more fulfilling ultimately?

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