Graham Short is an unusual artist, with his methods even more unusual. To create his microscopic pieces, of which he typically only produces four each year, the 71 year-old must remain almost impossibly still at all times.

A 2016 project saw him engrave Jane Austen’s face onto four brand new five pound notes - a protest at the lack of women chosen by the Bank of England to adorn them.

His work does get even more miniscule than that however.

“I’ve engraved ‘Nothing is Impossible’ on the sharp edge of a razor blade. I love it, it’s really interesting work,” he said.

 

Reflecting on his parents' arthritis concerned Short

 

Having watched both his parents suffer with arthritis as they grew old, Short’s biggest fear in life is developing a disease that would force him to give up his two great passions. Swimming, and micro-engraving.

A prolific swimmer, Short does what he can to put off the onset of arthritis.

His own personal research led to him starting to take daily doses of curcumin, a herbal supplement which originates from the turmeric plant.

Traditonally used in Chinese and Indian medicine, several clinical studies have shown curcumin to have anti-inflammatory properties as well as positive effects on the immune system.

These studies have shown that curcumin can ease swelling and joint pain for patients with both Rhuematoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis*.

Short says the positive effects on both his swimming and his work since he started taking curcumin eighteen months ago were immediately noticeable.

 

Experiencing the benefits in just 3 months

 

“Just three months in I felt sharper mentally. I was less tired and my swimming felt more comfortable,” Short told me.

Staying still is vital. The Curcumin hasn’t just helped my body, I feel sharper and more able to concentrate on what I’m doing.

“My back does stiffen up sometimes, which makes me think ‘I’m getting the arthritis my mother had’, but the Curcumin seems to reduce that inflammation and keep me moving.”

Having left school at 15 to work in the Birmingham engraving trade, Short started his own business in the mid 1970s.

Soon, however, as personal stationary engraving became increasingly less popular and Graham was forced to think outside of the box.

“It was about 15 years ago that I started doing the miniature engraving work, and I can’t believe how it’s taken off,” he said.

“I’m selling in art galleries all around the world, it’s a completely new life for me.”

 

 

Dedicated to engraving and swimming

 

Working from midnight until 5AM to avoid vibrations from passing traffic, Graham goes to great physical lengths to create his work.

The need to remain completely still sees him have regular botox injections in to his eyelids to ensure there is no distraction from eye muscles and nerves while working.

On top of that, a cocktail of drugs including potassium, magnesium and beta-blockers helps Short reduce his heartbeat to 20 beats per minute.

“I work inbetween heartbeats you see, using a stethoscope taped to my chest,” short explained.

“I can only make three to four cuts a night, so staying still is vital. The curcumin hasn’t just helped my body, I feel sharper and more able to concentrate on what I’m doing.”

Still swimming competitively, Short broke the 1,500 metres freestyle record for his age group at the European Championships last year.

“There’s even an age group for 100 year-olds,” he said.

“There aren’t many of them, obviously. If you want to do really well, you have to try and outlive the others!”

The tangible difference to his swimming is down to taking curcumin regularly according to Short.

He said the improvements in his lap times have impressed his friends more than the difference the supplement has made to his work.

“I’ve recommended it to all my swimming friends. I saw my parents struggle with arthritis, and I can’t have any of that,” Short said.

“I’m doing all I can to prevent it.”

 

 

*Source: Arthritis Foundation