Meet the man who can write the alphabet on a single grain of rice

A WORLD Record holder has been dispensing grains of wisdom about a 2,000-year-old artform to youngsters.

Artist Shyanubhog "Ricegrain" Venkatesh is one of the few people left in the world who practices micro art - the art of painting and writing on food grains.

The art form originated in India, where secret messages inscribed on small particles of food, including cereals, would be sent to kings

This week, Mr Venkatesh has been taking his unique skills into schools throughout the county.

He said: "I was a cartoonist for a magazine and one day I just thought why not try and draw or write on a piece of rice?

"By becoming a micro artist, a person can become more self-confident and have more patience. With this self-confidence and patience you can do anything in this life and become a very good citizen."

When Mr Venkatesh, of Karnataka, in India, first took up micro art as a hobby, he could only manage to inscribe four letters on a grain.

However, he has now emerged as a world-class artist and is capable of inscribing 578 letters on a single grain of rice.

National anthems, national flags, drawings of animals, paintings of plants, poems and names are also among the inscriptions he can doodle on a grain.

He holds the world record for inscribing 62 characters on a sesame seed and producing the world's smallest greeting card.

The artist has displayed his talent at more than 35 art exhibitions and received letters of appreciation from people including Rajiv Gandhi, the former prime minister of India and Bill Clinton, the ex-president of America.

He added: "I'm a stocks and shares broker at the moment and do micro art purely as a hobby, although it is starting to become a profession.

"Probably in about six months, I will become a full-time artist, as there is lots of interest in my work, particularly from America."

Mr Venkatesh's visit to schools across County Durham was arranged by The Forge Arts in Education - a one-stop shop for arts education based at Durham Art Gallery.

West Rainton Primary School, Sherburn Hill Primary, Peterlee's Eden Hill Infants, Wheatley Hill Primary and Peterlee's St Bede's Comprehensive have all enjoyed visits.

Joe Clark, a teacher at St Bede's, said: "Pupils were enthralled and were delighted with their own efforts. Some - those with short names -- even managed to write their own name on one tiny piece of rice.

"Mr Venkatesh was a very friendly, patient and gentle man and we at St Bede's feel highly privileged to have had the pleasure of working under his expert tuition."