Tiny Egypt is a photographic project I’ve designed to bring attention to those small-yet-stunning objects in museum collections that are usually too hard for us to appreciate with the naked eye. It’s a personal project that’s my own baby, unhindered by the demands of funding bodies or academic employment.

But, what, exactly, is Tiny Egypt? What am I photographing? How long will I be working on it for? And how will I be sharing my work with you?

On this page:

About Tiny Egypt

What objects am I photographing?

To start with the blindingly obvious, I’m working with objects discovered in Egypt, or from Egypt, usually in museum collections.

I’ve chosen to work with objects from the Pharaonic period, so anything from the 1st Dynasty through to the end of the Roman Period. Keep it nice and tidy.

Typically, it’s things like amulets, scarabs, statuettes and tomb models, jewellery, shabtis. But, pretty much anything that makes me go ‘Oooooh, that’s interesting!’

I also prefer objects to have a 3D nature to them, because they’re interesting to light and work well with my photographic style.

Size-wise, I’d prefer objects smaller than 15 cm, but I do consider going a little bigger if they’re particularly interesting.

The statuette of Nakht-ankh, for example, which I’ve used as the main header image for this website, is 25 cm tall, but focussing in on just his head is a detail no more than 6 cm in width.

So does this mean I’ll be picking details out from large objects, such as coffins? No. Objects of this size get their time in the sun aplenty; it’s the smaller pieces that struggle for attention that I want to be working with.

How long will I be working on the project?

Ah, that’s a tricky one. Between 2017 and 2021, I’ve been collecting images that I’ve made for the other exhibitions and projects, as well as a few I’ve done in my own time. These are – if you will – experiments, test pieces, and development. Tiny Egypt-proper launched in late 2021, and I’m now dedicating a significant amount of my time to the project.

To be honest, working on this project only, just with museums around northwest England could keep me in business for years! But, if I were to branch out to other museums either within the UK or further afield, it really could be a life’s work.

However, it’s good to have some idea of where I’m going with it, so initially, I’d like to be working on it for at least five years (if not more). Museums have literally thousands of small objects in their collections, so doing the project justice is never going to be quick work.

Which museums am I working with?

So far, I’ve partnered with Bolton Libraries and Museums, the Garstang Museum of Archaeology and Manchester Museum, which is amazing, because they all have such exciting collections.

We’re really very lucky in northwest England to have several museum collections within easy travel distance. As well as the three museums I’m already working with, we also have the World Museum in Liverpool, The Atkinson in Southport, Museum of Wigan Life and Warrington Museum and Art Gallery, to name but a few.

As I get going with more photography, I’m hoping to approach a few more museums to widen the scope and reach of the project. So, watch this space!

How will I share the work I'm making?

I’m aiming on organising an exhibition, or exhibitions. There’s potential for each museum involved to have their own, personalised exhibition.

If I can afford it, I’d like to get photogrammetry done for some of the objects so 3D models can be printed. That way, museums can have exhibitions without having to organise loans, and the exhibitions can even be pushed out to local community centres, libraries, or even shopping centres, to encourage more people to engage with the museums. And including 3D models makes the exhibitions more tactile and accessible.

I’ll be publishing as well. At this stage I’m aiming to self-publish an annual book featuring the images I’ve made that year, with perhaps larger, glossier tomes later on.

How am I funding the project?

At the moment, I’m self-funding Tiny Egypt. As tempting as it is to start by firing off lots of application for grants, I’m not sure it’s the best route right now.

I’m the kind of person who needs to actually start working on a project practically before I can get my head around how to get the best out of it. If I were to put in bids for funding now, I would need to nail down exact lengths of time, outputs etc. Plus, I would need to adjust and tailor the project to how I think each different funder would want it to be. I’d be working for the funding bodies, and not for you and for me, and it would be an exercise in working towards a specific output at a specific date, rather than spending time exploring objects across museums.

So, I’d rather spend some time working on the project in a way that suits me and my restricted energy levels, and is most engaging for those I’m doing it for – such as people like you reading this page – before I start drilling down how I might put together an exhibition.

Once I know I’m in the right place to start thinking about exhibitions, that’s when I’ll consider putting in for a project grant.

If you’re interested in helping support the project (and not every option involves money), have a look at the Support Tiny Egypt page:

About my personal journey into Tiny Egypt

In May 2015, I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome; an illness embedded deep in your immune system that leaves you feeling constantly exhausted.

With no treatment, the only advice my doctor could give me was to pace myself. So, I did what many others have done to try to find peace in a difficult life: I turned to creative practice.

I found that photography allowed me to look at the world in a different way. To frame it, to understand it, and to observe it better than I could otherwise. It absorbed me in a way few other things do, allowing me time to myself, to not think about the troubles of the world.

I found photography soothing and mindful, and I was able to keep going with my limited supply of energy longer than I normally could.

So, in late 2016, I began a personal, therapeutic project, photographing artefacts at the Garstang Museum of Archaeology in Liverpool. The University of Liverpool was where I’d studied for a BA and Postgraduate Diploma in Egyptology, so being able to bring my two passions together was so exciting.

Those early images – in particular, some I made of a statue of Hathor – led to curator Dr Gina Criscenzo Laycock inviting me to work on exhibitions at the Garstang. It also led to me developing a photographic style rarely seen in archaeology and museums. One that’s more artistic and stylised, and about letting every object tell its own story.

I light each piece in its own way, using the play between light and shadow to bring textures and shapes to the fore. To let each one speak in its own way. To highlight the details and the craftsmanship involved in its creation that can so easily escape notice.

In particular, I like to use a macro lens to photograph tiny, hard-to-see objects so often crowded into museum cases.

In stark contrast to usual artefact photography, I take all context away from the object. I remove the background, and make no reference to size. I leave it floating in its own space, thus allowing you to consider each piece in its own right.

My style is often reminiscent of the deep shadows and partial, directed lighting you would have encountered in an ancient Egyptian temple. And of the duality seen in ancient Egyptian culture and beliefs. But the play of dark and light, and of overlooked details, is also a personal reflection of the life I’ve lived, and still live. Of the darkness of isolation that chronic illness to can force upon you, broken up by the light of finding a passion and a place in life.

About the Tiny Egypt logo

My Tiny Egypt logo is a design that I’ve thought about very carefully. At first glance, you see a winged scarab rolling his sundisk across the sky, except the sundisk is actually a camera aperture

This, of course, reflects the meeting of ancient Egypt and photography. It’s more multilayered than this, however; there’s significance on a deeper level.

The Egyptians chose the scarab beetle to represent the morning sun. He rolled the sundisk across the sky as the scarab did its ball of dung along the ground. The beetle is powerful, able to move objects larger than itself, and the Egyptians would see new life spring forth from their dungballs where they laid their eggs.

So, the scarab deity Khepri – the morning manifestation of the the sungod Re – signified transformation and rebirth. In fact, the ancient Egyptian word kheper meant to ‘come into being’ or to ‘transform’.

Just as the Egyptians elevated the diminuitive scarab beetle to the magnitude of a deity that had the power to move the sun, my aim is to transform the objects I photograph for Tiny Egypt into something more significant than just their size; to help them come into being and shine from the heavens, too.

I have to thank the amazing artist Aakheperure for their help creating my logo. Although I knew what I wanted, they were the one who realised it for me.

Some of you may already know Aakheperure on social media, but if you don’t, or you haven’t already, check out their Redbubble store, where you can find more of their amazing and beautiful artwork, as well as links to connect on Twitter and Instagram.

Explore more of the Tiny Egypt website:

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What is Tiny Egypt?

Learn about the project, what I'm photographing, and who I'm working with

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Support Tiny Egypt

Tiny Egypt is a self-directed, self-funded project. Find out how you can get involved

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Project photos

Explore a selection of photos, including scarabs, amulets and statuettes

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Articles about Tiny Egypt

Read some of my recent articles and updates about the goings on at Tiny Egypt