Travel the world over, and statues are everywhere to be found; in public squares and on stately grounds, honouring the people who represent accomplishments of which to be proud. Whether warrior, explorer, or political leader, a statue represents the values a culture wishes to uphold in a person they wish to honour. From perfect human forms in ancient Greece, to the victorious modern soldier, a statue is an ‘idol’ of an age. This is reinforced in totalitarian cultures where statues of leaders are openly venerated.
In the city of Kyiv, Ukraine, is the unpretentious museum of microminiatures. Home to the work of Mykola Syadristy, several circular displays line the walls of the small museum, each with a powerful magnifying lens in front. I glanced at the first one, and saw nothing visible to the naked eye. But then I leaned over and peered like Popeye through the lens. There, in unmistakable beauty, was a perfectly formed crystal flower, with intricate gold stem and delicate leaves. Immediately, I lifted my eye from the microscope and looked again to where I saw nothing but a thread. Back to the magnifying lens: the perfect, majestic detail reappeared. ‘Nooo!’ I slowly breathed in protest, unable to believe what I was seeing. The sensation increased as I circled the room and my eyes saw what my mind found difficult to process – a chess set on the head of a pin, a nest of birds in a poppy seed, the world’s smallest book (a mere 0.6mm sq., written on flower petals), a red rose set in a hollowed-out human hair.