Rye Museum as a Rye Festival Venue

Rye Museum as a Rye Festival Venue

This many times enlarged portrait of  Queen Elizabeth was made on a spec of gold inserted into the eye of a needle.  It was created by our speaker, micro-artist Graham Short,  to celebrate our Queen’s 90th birthday and is the smallest portrait ever made of  her, visible only by using a magnifying glass. (Photo INS News Agency Ltd.)

Throughout the Rye Festival (September 17-October 1) the Museum welcomed visitors every day, especially to a new exhibition of Rye Royale in the 20s. It also hosted a most fascinating talk, Hands of Genius by Graham Short, one of the world’s leading exponents of micro-art.

Micro-Artist at Work

micro-artist-graham-short-full‘What a character and what an artist!’ ‘The presentation was pure entertainment.’ ‘It was an astonishing presentation.’   Typical comments from those who’ve been to a Graham Short presentation.

Graham had been encouraged by a teacher at school to ‘be the best that he can’ and ‘think outside the box’ and he seems to have followed both pieces of advice.

He became an engraver in the jewelry quarter of Birmingham and has gone on to produce letterheads for the royal family and top institutions.  He became a Micro-artist and is best known for having engraved The Lord’s Prayer on the head of a pin.  He is now considered to be one of the most talented living artists in the world.

His working arrangements are almost unbelievably strict:  He works at midnight to avoid vibration from passing traffic.  He consumes tablets during the night to lower his heart-rate to 20 beats per minute.  Wearing a stethoscope, he monitors his heart and engraves with very fine needles — between heart beats! He also has botulinum-toxin injections around his eyes to keep the muscles and nerves rigid.

 queens-headWe had heard that his extreme way of working never ceases to amaze people and members of the Museum audience were certainly impressed.  He showed us some of his work — obviously enlarged, sometimes hundreds of times — on the projector screen. These included a portrait of the Queen on a spec of gold inside the eye of a needle.

He amused us with some funny stories; it was certainly an afternoon of entertainment as well as astonishment.  But sadly I don’t think anyone in the audience could easily afford his work which sells in the region of £50,000.  He has had requests from champion footballers and the like for commissions.

He has appeared on TV around the world — and now he has appeared in Rye!

Heather Stevenson 


First posted in Featured, Past Talks on 5th October 2016
Last updated: 12th October 2016