His micro-engraving has elevated a range of ubiquitous items to rare works of genius. From pins to pen nibs, paper clips to needles, Graham has inscribed these items with quotes ranging from the literati of the last couple of centuries to the sometimes irreverent soundbites of contemporary songwriters. These inscriptions often measure just a few thousandths of a millimetre. The engraving on his smallest creations are just 6 microns high – the same size as a red human blood cell – and can only be viewed under a powerful microscope.
Working in collaboration with much-loved author and broadcaster Stephen Fry, Graham produced ‘Fry’s Delight’ – a quotation engraved on Stephen’s silver fountain pen. It was donated to the charity, English PEN, to celebrate the organisation’s 90th anniversary.
Known as the ‘Hands of Genius’ in the art world for his microscopic masterpieces, Graham has spent over half a century honing his craft, going to both physical and mental extremes to produce some of the highest-quality engravings in the world. Graham’s desire to produce an engraving so small as to be illegible to the naked eye led to the making of his masterpiece, The Lord’s Prayer, engraved on the head of a gold pin, which is invisible to the naked eye.
The Lord’s Prayer garnered Graham international fame for his talent and craft and has elevated him to rock-star status, last seen in the 17th century when master engravers Dürer and Robert Nanteuil’s work rivalled that of painting and sculpture. The eminence of Graham’s artwork has been cemented by a recent piece – the world’s smallest portrait of Her Majesty the Queen, engraved on a speck of gold inside the eye of a needle. This was sold for £100,000.
His Islamic calligraphy creations are considered, by art enthusiasts, to be his best work. Graham says, “I’ve always been drawn to the beauty of Islam as a living faith.” “The Arabic characters have their own intrinsic appeal, and I felt that micro-engraving my Islamic work on such a small scale was not only in keeping with, but also an homage to, the intricate artwork that has been a feature of mosques and of the Islamic aesthetic generally down the centuries.” The worldwide interest shown in the engraving of ‘The 99 Names of Allah’ on a platinum pin, is evidence of a very healthy and dynamic collectors’ scene around Islamic-inspired art.
In 2020, Graham worked in collaboration with the Queen’s Poet Laureate, Simon Armitage. The Institute of Cancer Research commissioned Simon to write the poem and Graham engraved it on a cancer pill. The tablet will be displayed in the new Centre for Cancer Drug Discovery when it opens in 2021.