Ivanhoe Ashby de la Zouch U3A U3A Group Logo

Monthly Meetings

We meet at 2 pm on the fourth Tuesday of the month at the Congregational Church, Kilwardby St, Ashby.
There is normally a guest speaker or, in December, musical entertainment.
This is followed by tea, coffee and biscuits and a chance to meet and talk with other members.

Future programme
DateSpecial EventsSpeakerSubject

Tue 27th AugCream Tea EventNo speaker
Tue 24th SepJack PerksBest of British
Tue 22nd OctAlexa Wigfield"When You Wish Upon A Star" - Dream making for sick children.
Tue 26th NovRoger HailwoodThe Yorkshire Dales.
Tue 10th DecChristmas EventNick GravestockAyres & Graces - Christmas entertainment
Tue 28th JanStephanie and Trevor MeeConfessions of game show junkies
Tue 25th FebColin HillDancing with Diana
Tue 24th MarMark Walsh"The Ukulele Sensation"

Tea Rota, Meeters & Greeters, Reporting Groups

MonthTea GroupMeet & GreetReporting Groups
Tue 27th AugThe Committee for Cream TeaEstelle Sandles & Tony Smithnone
Tue 24th SepJoan Benton, Anne Donegan, Carol SmithTBARecorder & Short Walks
Tue 22nd OctJean Preece, Brenda Dummer, Sandra FoxTBATBA
Tue 26th NovJenny & Pete Slawson, Bridget & Jim FairwayTBATBA
Tue 10th DecThe Committee for Christmas FareTBAnone

23rd July "The Hands of Genius"

When we were greeted by a man in a flowery jacket and flowered lime green shoes, we just knew this was going to be good.

Graham Short is a micro-artist, living and working in Birmingham. He is known for producing miniature pieces of art and is considered as one of the worlds leading exponents of micro art.

He left school at 15 without qualifications, he then chose to sign up for a 6 year apprenticeship at a small stationery engraving company in Birmingham where he learned the art of copperplate and steel die engraving used to produce embossed letterheads, business cards and wedding invitations. In his first year of his apprenticeship he also learnt the art of catching mice!
He soon discovered he had a natural talent for engraving and on finishing his apprenticeship he set up his own one man business in Birmingham's jewellery quarter.

During his career he created stationery for banks, perfume companies and Royalty. He visited Buckingham palace on several occasions and regaled us with hilarious stories, telling us about princess Michael of Kent, getting down on her hands and knees to sweep up what she thought was the wood shavings left by carpenters only to find it was part of a student's final-year art show.

Then in 1971 and needing a challenge, he decided to engrave a Shakespearean verse on the end of a paper clip.

To accomplish this very fine work, he engraves from midnight to 5am, to avoid the vibrations from passing traffic, he straps his right arm to the bench, allowing only his fingertips to move. After taking tablets to reduce his heart rate to around 20 beats a minute, and using a stethoscope to monitor his heart, between beats he engraves one line at a time with very fine needles whilst looking at the object through a microscope. He sometimes only manages 5 or 6 lines per night.

He even has Botox around his eyes so that there is little muscle movement. Added to that he swims 10,000 metres every day in a pool, his reasoning being that the fitter you are the lower your resting heart beat will be.

The paper clip was bought by Ronnie Barker for £14,000, who had then an antique shop in Chipping Norton. They became friends and Graham found him to be a very shy man unlike his TV persona.

Graham always makes a sketch of what he is about to engrave, then works down the middle line following along with the letters on either side.

Graham was asked to engrave a pen for Stephen Fry in 2012 with an Oscar Wilde quote on the nib and another around the centre band. It was later sold at Sotheby's to raise money for a charity that supports imprisoned writers around the world. From this he still has 2 identical pens bought for £495 in case he slipped whilst engraving.

His next challenge was to engrave the words "nothing is impossible" on the sharp edge of a razor blade, this gave him a different problem as he kept cutting himself and getting infected fingers.

It was sold to a doctor for £50,000.

Amongst his many achievements he has also engraved the Lord's Prayer on the head of a pin, engraved various quotes and also the Queen's head on gold discs that fit into the eye of a needle.

The work that brought him into the public eye, was the arrival of the new polymer £5 note in 2016, where Graham engraved the head of Jane Austen with classic quotes from her books in the transparent section of four notes, as it was the 200th anniversary of her death.
He checked with the bank of England to see what the consequences were for defacing a bank note. To date no one has ever been prosecuted for doing so and the fine is only £200, so it was worth the risk.

He spent one note in south Wales, one in Melton Mowbray, one in Kelso and the last in Enniskillen and then alerted the media as to what he had done. When one was found it was sent anonymously to a gallery, where the sender asked for it to be sold and the proceeds to go for a children's charity. It was auctioned for Children in Need and made £5000, which was what Graham hoped would happen and that people or charities would make money from them.

Simon Rattle the composer, who had bought work from Graham, gave him a quote from the composer Thomas Beecham to a cellist - "young man, you have between your legs an instrument capable of giving pleasure to thousands and all you can do is scratch it". He didn't say if he had yet engraved the quote on to anything!

Graham gave us a fascinating talk with great humour. The hours of patient work needed to create his work is incredible.