A Guide To Brisbane’s Mysterious Tiny Doors

By Eleanor Surtees

It’s easy to get caught up in the routine of everyday life. You walk the same streets and see the same things; but how often do you stop to look down?

Hidden around Brisbane’s bustling laneways and busy streets sits a collection of tiny, meticulously crafted doorways, fit for a mouse. Measuring just a few inches in height, these doors add a feeling of whimsy and charm to the city’s art scene and create one of the most unique scavenger hunts around town. 

Mace Robertson, the guerilla environmental artist behind this mini world carefully handcrafts every doorway, injecting lifelike detail into these miniature creations. 

“I noticed the trend in other cities around the world, and thought I could bring that intrigue to Brisbane” says Mace. “ There were a few around locally, but not in the city itself, so I installed the first one in Burnett Lane just off the Queen st Mall.”

In 2017, a tiny red door numbered 45a, fitted with a stone archway appeared in Burnett Lane and quickly gained attention from the public. 

Image Credit: Khepri Photography

Unfortunately, Brisbane’s weather was unkind, which disintegrated this piece; however, in 2021 the installation was revitalized with new materials and an updated look. 

“The downsides are obvious, but to be expected when making public art: They are exposed to the extremes of weather and the touch of many curious hands, so you must make them as durable as possible.I use hardwoods, brass, aluminum, PVC, house paint, and concrete in their construction…materials you would make a regular building from normally.”

After the success of 45a, Mace worked with the BrisAsia festival to create a yellow doorway, adorned with oriental style double doors. The bright, eye-catching colours and scattered garden stones of this installation compliment Bakery street’s unique and urban style.

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Appropriately named the Goblin Door, the third installation of the tiny door collection showcases an ornately carved wooden face with a concrete style door frame to match its urban backdrop. 

Located against the retaining wall on the corner of Melbourne and Grey street, this creation utilises Mace’s carving skills to create a beautifully unique and mysterious addition to Brisbane’s smallest treasure hunt. 

An Instagram post unveiling this creation cryptically references The Labyrinth, which could potentially be a nod to the riddling doors seen in the movie.

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The fourth addition to this mini series is one of two tiny doors that can be found in Fish Lane. This doorway made from eucalyptus, ironwood and aluminum is one of the most ornate displays of architectural design to date. The dark green door contrasted against the artificially aged white entryway draws you in to appreciate its elegant design. 

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The Red Records shopfront replica takes a slightly different approach to the fairy door models seen previously. Also located in Fish Lane, this creation is a scale model shopfront of a bright red record store, including more detail than ever before. 15 tiny vinyl records sit perched in the window, displaying some of the most legendary artists and iconic album covers in music history.  

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Bond University recognised Mace’s ability to capture attention through these mini creations and commissioned a set of four unique and interactive doorways to promote their microcredential courses. This commission includes a yellow psychologist office, a bright blue Bond University doorway, a red brick fire station, and a stone brick clinic. 

Unique to these four creations is the ability to actually open the doors and peak in. A QR code can be scanned from inside to explore the campaign’s purpose and the location of other doors around Brisbane. The combination of street art and technology in this way creates a captivating and unique advertising medium unlike anything I’ve interacted with before.

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After 6 years of adding to and maintaining this collection of tiny doorways across Brisbane City, locals and tourists alike have fallen for the charm of these mini creations. The unpredictability and mystery surrounding each door’s locations adds a sense of adventurous possibility to everyday life as people discover something hidden and unknown. 

“The best thing about the doors is that everyone gets to appreciate the final piece after all the work I put into them. You don’t get that by selling a piece of art privately.”

The good news is that we can expect to see more tiny doors in the future. Mace has made it clear that he has no plans on stopping anytime soon with plans to evolve into more “serious scale model pieces” as he explores different ideas and themes for his creations. 

Next time you’re walking around Brisbane City, slow down and take a look around you, you never know what secrets could be hidden by your feet. 

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