FOR years a striking image of the beautiful 18th Century Russian aristocrat the Countess Golovine captured the imagination of both Mark Morris and his future wife Chier. The portrait was so captivating that Mark, a Swindon-based artist specialising in miniatures, pledged to create his own tiny version of the masterpiece.

It took him a decade to get round to it but now his miniscule copy of the painting has been chosen for an exhibition highlighting the country’s finest contemporary enamel artwork.

It is currently on display at the Guild of Enamellers and British Society of Enamellers exhibition at The School of Jewellery in Birmingham.

The work was one of just 43 chosen for the prestigious exhibition, which runs until December 13.

Mark, 38, of Freshbrook, West Swindon, whose work has been owned by the likes of Princess Diana and Elton John, said: “It's a great honour to be selected for the exhibition.

“I thought there may have been 100 or so pieces on display. But only 43 were selected so that makes it even more special.”

Mark’s interpretation of the work by the French artist Élisabeth Vigée-Le Brun is a miniature marvel.

Like all of his artwork, he painstakingly painted it onto the lid of an enamel box measuring 80mm by 60mm – approximately three inches by two-and-a-third.

Said Mark: “The original painting is particularly special to me because it is on display at the Barber Institute of fine art at the University of Birmingham where I met my wife.

“She liked the painting so much that I promised her that I would do a miniature interpretation of it.

“It took me ten years to get round to it – which is something that she frequently reminds me of.”

He added: “This piece was also my first serious attempt at doing a portrait in miniature.”

Creating detailed pieces in a wooden workshop in the back-garden of his terraced home, Mark specialises in the time-honoured Georgian art of enamelling onto copper.

He was 18 when he saw a newspaper advert seeking an artist who could work in miniature so he “gave it a go.” He spent the next five years working for London-based Halcyon Days Enamels, creating more than 100 pieces including an enamel box for Princess Diana that involved painting Winnie the Pooh onto the lid.

A present commissioned for Elton John saw him squeeze an aerial view of a sprawling pink mansion onto a tiny box-lid.

He eventually quit to fulfill his ambition of going to university and later spent a decade working for Swindon energy supplier Innogy (formerly npower) before striking out as a freelance craftsman two years ago.

He is married to Chier, 33, a music therapist and piano teacher and they have a three year-old son Oliver.

It takes Mark around two weeks to handcraft and paint a single box which he sells for between £1,275 and £1,600.

The subjects of his enamel boxes range from the Space Shuttle in launch mode to jazz supremo Louis Armstrong.

  •  Mark’s website can be visited at He can be emailed at: Tel: 07914404853