The world’s smallest engraver is to make a rare public appearance in the Borders this weekend.
Graham Short, whose micro artwork has sold for more than £100,000, became a global internet sensation last year when he engraved the portrait of Jane Austen on five new £5 notes and secretly spent them across the UK – including a Kelso baker’s shop.
The Englishman joined forces with Borders-based artist Tony Huggins-Haig and spent the notes – estimated to be worth over £50,000 each – in shops in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
A unique artist, Short has engraved on the sharp edge of a razor blade, the heads of pins, eye of a needle, and football stud, among other items. He works in private, only between the hours of midnight and 5am to avoid street vibrations, and uses botox and beta-blockers to control his heart-rate and facial movement while engraving.
Now 70, Short is to appear at the Tony Huggins-Haig Gallery in Kelso on Saturday and Sunday, August 26 and 27, to launch his new ‘Faith’ collection.
Short said: “I was quite taken aback by the interest in the £5 notes last year and it persuaded me to do a bit more publicly. As an artist I’m quite private about my work, but the point of the £5 note was to give people their own piece of art and widen the appeal of art.
“The ‘Faith’ collection is about what is going on around us in Britain and the UK now, and the challenges we have to diversity and multi-culturalism. It’s the first exhibition I’ve done in a while and I’m looking forward to it.”
For the first time, a limited number of Short’s micro engravings will be available to members of the public encased in uniquely hand-crafted wooden boxes.
Short is descended from a long-established family of English engravers, and his unique micro work has attracted collectors from around the world. His art has been described as ‘magical’.
He added: “I have loved the challenge of engraving on tiny items but what I’m trying to do now with this exhibition is share some of the magic I guess.
“In the ancient Egyptian language, the hieroglyphic word for art was also the same word for religion. Art and religion was an inseparable concept. From the statues on Easter Island to the stones of the pyramids, viewers can find an emotional, as well as religious, identification.
“My hope is that when people look down the microscope at this work, they will experience the same emotions of reverence and wonder I feel when I produce my microscopic engravings.
“People don’t have to be religious to be drawn into a world of awe and wonder though I feel that religion can give meaning and dignity to our existence as we journey through our lives. I would hope that when people visit the ‘Faith’ Exhibition in Kelso, they will understand, that in my own microscopic way, I am trying to show that we can have a mutual respect for followers of other religions. True faith doesn’t separate us but brings us closer together.”