Trenchard and Steep Street in Victorian Bristol, U.K.: A Diorama by Bill O’Malley

Trenchard and Steep Street in Victorian Bristol, U.K.: A Diorama by Bill O’Malley

Inspired by a photo from the Victorian era, Bill O’Malley began to research and build a diorama of the buildings that once stood along Trenchard and Steep Street in Bristol, UK. Referencing historic black and white photos and artists watercolors, he constructed the corner as it existed in the 19th century for this Community Corner Exhibition.

Years ago, I stumbled upon a black & white photo by John Hill Morgan of some deteriorated buildings in 1866 Bristol, England. One of my hobbies is photography, which was the first attraction to the image. The high-quality image depicted buildings of advanced age and in very poor condition in a depressed area of the city. The photo also provided a fascinating look at life in those squalid conditions. I later learned that the buildings were demolished a few years after the image was taken so the photo records buildings that no longer exist.

I also build scale models. Inspired by the photograph, I thought I could build a scale model of this scene! That is how my fascination with photography and scale modeling led me to the Bristol Streetscape, creating in miniature the effects of age, wear, and environmental effects to ‘weather’ the scene to be as realistic as possible.

— Bill O’Malley

Antique photograph of a street corner in Bristol UK
The junction of Steep Street & Trenchard Street, Bristol, 1866. Photograph by John Hill Morgan

About the Artist

Bill O’Malley has been a scale model builder since his childhood. O’Malley remembers putting together plastic model car kits and rolling his creations on the living room floor. By the time he entered high school O’Malley was building increasingly detailed kits, which he painted creatively.

College and family life inevitably interrupted O’Malley’s hobby. Nevertheless, his career as an architect and artist allowed him to develop and master drafting, painting, and sculpting skills. When he retired, he returned to model building and was ready for the challenge of building complex model kits. Soon thereafter, he was scratch-building scale models of his own design.

O’Malley’s favorite part of model building is artistically finishing and weathering his miniatures. His skill and attention to detail enable him to create an illusion of reality in miniature. When photographed, his scale models appear so real the viewer is astounded to find out they are looking at a photograph of a miniature.

O’Malley’s models have won local, state, and international awards. He is a member of Tucson’s model builders club, the Sonoran Desert Model Builders, and he provides critical reviews of kits for the International Plastic Modelers Society.

About the Community Corner

The Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures’ Community Corner is exhibit space dedicated to featuring the work of Arizona artists working in miniature. Exhibits are selected to demonstrate the diversity of miniature artwork that is being created in our community.

Exhibition Sponsorship

Our 2022 Exhibition Season is supported in part by Sterling Investment Management, LLC, a private, independent, employee owned investment management boutique. For over 25 years, this Tucson-based firm has created sophisticated portfolios of individual securities designed to meet each client’s financial planning objectives. Their long-standing tradition of growing and safeguarding their clients’ wealth on a risk-adjusted basis has defined the success of both their clients and Sterling since 1995.

Our 2022 Exhibition Season is supported in part by the Arizona Commission on the Arts, which receives support from the State of Arizona and the National Endowment for the Arts.