Just been reading the feature on 'Inkerman Street' in the second Model Railway Journal Compendium. Superb photography and an incredibly atmospheric layout. It has always ranked as one of my favourites from the photos I've seen. It just oozes atmosphere. You can almost smell the sun-baked tarmac on the road outside the harware shop, hear the tinkle of the bell over the door in the bakers, the whirring of crickets in the long grass at the back of the builders yard, and the faint strains of a wireless drifting through the open back door of one of the terraced houses. This is modelling at its absolute best - it transports you to another place and time, like a really great novel - the kind you don't want to end.
I think Bob Barlow sums up perfectly what it is that makes such a great model - it's about far more than "a collection of carefully disposed miniatures"; its about personal memories, recollections, experiences. "apparently trivial thing(s) which act... as a trigger for a great deal more". These things come together in the mind to create a vivid sense of the atmosphere one is trying to convey and from there it is just a case of transferring that atmosphere into the model itself.
Although I'd be delighted if my models could even begin to come up to these sorts of standards, I think the principle (if it can be called such) is something I can relate to very well. I like to allow time for an idea to grow and develop and take on a life of its own in my imagination before starting out on any actual modelling. Not until I can see what I want to create in perfect detail - as if I've actually been there 'in the flesh' so to speak - do I want to actually start building it. I think the same rule could be applied to most any art form, be it writing a novel, painting a picture... it needs to take on a life of its own before anything is actually created.
On another note, I wonder if Inkerman Street (the model!) still exists somewhere?