Lonely Planet Writer

Discover Malaysian culture through this incredible miniature art

There are many ways to discover the distinctive cultures of different destinations around the world, whether it is through visiting museums, learning about history, sampling food or looking at photographs. But one Malaysian artist is focusing on life’s smaller details in order to tell the story of her homeland, having started a project that sees her creating incredibly detailed miniature scenes of everyday items and places.

A miniature of a Malaysian provision shop.
A miniature of a Malaysian provision shop. Image by PicoWorm

Called PicoWorm, (using ‘pico’, a minuscule unit in the metric system and ‘worm’ from the word ‘bookworm’) the project was created by Pui Wan Lim. “PicoWorm means somebody who loves to devote time to making something small. That person is me. Nestled in it are also the initials of my name, P.W”, Pui Wan said. A self-taught artist, Pui Wan decided to pursue a career as a miniature artist after graduating with a degree in mechanical engineering. Starting with food, she began making different, intricate pieces, branching out to create everyday objects such as kitchenware and furniture.

Pui Wan Lim is a self-taught artist and began creating miniatures after graduating from college. Image by PicoWorm

“My inspiration usually comes from my life and memories. For example, the provision shop I made is based on my childhood memories. Snacks that I used to eat and the games that I used to play. A kitchen piece was inspired by my grandmother’s house. Sometimes the inspiration also comes from what I’ve seen or read. I love hanging out at the museum to explore culture and history, this is where I used to further think on my theme of artwork,” Pui Wan told Lonely Planet Travel News.

A scene from Pui Wan’s grandmother’s kitchen. Image by PicoWorm

So far Pui Wan has created a fully-stocked snack shop, scenes from Kuala Lumpur and a coffee shop that is due to be demolished soon. The nature of the work allows Pui Wan to capture the likeness of places in order to preserve and share aspects of the country’s culture. “Miniatures can be there forever, unlike the real things in life, that can change or disappear in one day. The same goes for the culture and history of our nation, if no one passes it down in a way, it could fade in the future. So I chose to make miniatures so that it can be shared in a special way, where people can understand and remember easily.”

Tiny pieces of kitchenware on a small chair. Image by PicoWorm

More of Pui Wan’s work, including miniatures that are available to purchase, can found at her official website.