Through a needle’s eye for art at Microscopic Museum
Szentendre’s Mikró Csodák/Microscopic Museum is a wondrous place: as one may rightfully ask, how is it possible to create such tiny, exquisite things?
A microscope is indeed the only way to see these miraculously assembled images presented on a grain of sugar, inside a poppy seed, on a pinhead, through the eye of a needle and more. These materials are the basic canvases and props used by Ukraine’s Mykola Syadristy, the creator of these mind-over-matter miniatures.
It is an exhibition that brings together science, technology and art. One may not necessarily register with this event right away, simply because these ingenious showpieces are so small, perhaps far smaller than anyone could imagine.
Sometimes equal in size to natural, life-sized miniature organisms, they are scarcely visible to the human eye and only finally appear under the microscope lens to the eventually tuned in, amazed mind. Here is an artist who has miraculously found a way of combining the forces of art and magic, creating a marvellous micro world.
The exhibits represent famous and everyday people, iconic symbols and mottoes, and simple, ordinary life imagery, by means of outstanding craftsmanship and recherché. Here are some examples:
Life: A man walks along a watch spring, representing the path of life. The figure is made from five microns of gold.
Sea: The composition, made from gold, consists of a lady looking out to sea, with a yacht and seagull in view, presented on a grain of rice.
The Chessmen: A tiny set made with gold pieces is placed on a nail head.
Camelcade: Four gold camels walking in the eye of an ordinary needle, with a pyramid and palm tree to create the atmosphere of the well-known Bible verse.
The Mill: A golden windmill is placed inside half a poppy seed.
Flower: A simple watercolour flower is painted on half an apple seed.
Shoes for a flea: A life-size flea, made of gold, is decorated with golden shoes.
Meeting: Tea for two is served on a grain of sugar.
And many more.
The materials used are gold, marble, glass, wood, ivory, seeds and fossils, worked by micro-engraving, carving and sculpting. A single bristle from a paintbrush was used for painting and decorating.
One is sure to be full of admiration for this astonishing exhibition, as I still am every time I and my children visit. How is this possible, I always ask myself, and the same question must have been asked of Mykola Syadristy over and over.
This former engineer, born in 1937, replies: “One must have knowledge and experience in design and composition. Pay attention to all properties of all materials which are used in this craft, and control hand movements performing delicate arm motions. To achieve each miniature, one must make each engraving or chisel work between each heartbeat, and with the next, and the next, to avoid even the slightest disruption. But an artist’s real creative side is based from their childhood.”
With this learned statement in mind, I can imagine that taking an irregular breath, perhaps without realising, would impair the work entirely after much time had been spent on it. And obviously a general sense of great childhood very much plays a part in each of these marvels.
Syadristy has a sister exhibition at the Micro-Art museum at the Lavra, the wonderful spiritual heart of Kyiv, and I have been fortunate to have seen both micro-exhibitions.
The quaint artistic town of Szentendre (Saint Andrew), with its high cultural identity, has much to offer. Dating from 1146, it has a calm provincial atmosphere and is a mecca for artists, authors, poets, musicians and actors. There are many little churches of various denominations as well as fine art galleries, restaurants and novelty souvenir shops.
Szentendre can be reached by the regular HEV commuter train service, which begins at Batthyány tér, by the number 11 road and by a bicycle lane alongside the River Danube. Ferries operate on the river but not all year round. The Microscopic Museum is at Fő tér 18/19. I promise you something very special.