The best things come in small packages!
Some pieces of artwork are absolutely massive and take up acres, while some just fill up an A4 piece of paper. Local artist, Willard Wigan is one of the only people in the world who can create what can only be described as ‘mini art’.
The artist, who has an exhibition housed within the Mailbox, is the only person in the world who can create objects at the level they are. His works are displayed on canvases such as the head of a pin, the tip of an eyelash or even a grain of sand and are at least three times smaller than this full stop! >>> .
Nanosculptures – Artwork of Willard Wigan
Willard Wigan: Art in Miniature Micro-artist Willard Wigan lives in England and creates the worlds tiniest sculptures. Timing his movements between heartbeats. http://youtu.be/SB2gxIDeUMs Amazing sculpter carves and paints incredible works of art smaller than the head of a pin through the lens of a microscope. Truly unbelievable and wonderful. Willard Wigan, MBE (born 1957) is an English sculptor from Birmingham, England, who makes microscopic art.
His sculptures are typically placed in the eye of a needle or on the head of a pin. A single sculpture can be as small as 0.005 mm (0.0002 in). In July 2007 Willard Wigan was honoured by HRH Prince of Wales with an MBE for his services to art.
Life and work
As a child with undiagnosed dyslexia, Willard Wigan was ridiculed in class by his primary school teachers for not learning to read. Wigan attributes his early drive in sculpting, which began at the age of five, to his need to escape from the derision of teachers and classmates. He wanted to show the world that nothing did not exist, deducing that if people were unable to view his work, then they would not be in any position to criticise it. Wigan has since aimed to make even smaller artworks, visible only with a microscope.
The subjects of Wigan’s works range from popular culture to architecture. The sculptor often refers in his work to other artists and historical events. Amongst his most famous pieces are a minute reproduction of Michelangelo’s David, carved out of a single grain of sand and a commissioned miniature version of the Lloyd’s building in London. Wigan has recently created a miniature sculpture representing the Obama family and has carved a statue of astronaut Buzz Aldrin in the eye of a needle, in celebration of the fortieth anniversary of the 1969 lunar landing. Other works include a microscopic Betty Boop and a copy of the FIFA World Cup trophy, both about 0.005 mm (0.0002 in) tall.
Collectors of Willard’s work include HRH Prince Charles, Sir Elton John, former world heavyweight champion, Mike Tyson, Lord Bath, former David Cup Tennis Captain, David Lloyd and music mogul, Simon Cowell.
His work is described as phenomenal and the eighth wonder of the world. The height of his career came in July 2007, when he was awarded an MBE from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
Materials and techniques
On average, it takes Wigan about eight weeks to complete one sculpture in a process that is physically challenging. Because the works are microscopic, the sculptor has learned to control his nervous system and breathing to ensure he does not make even the tiniest movement. Wigan, when working, enters a meditative state in which his heartbeat is slowed, allowing him to reduce any hand tremors and work between heartbeats.
To carve his figures, Wigan uses Swann-Morton surgical blades or hand-made tools, (some of which are custom made out of a sharpened microscopic sliver of tungsten), which he makes by attaching a shard of diamond to a pin. Wigan uses a range of materials, including nylon, grains of sand, dust fibres, gold and spider’s cobwebs, depending on the demands of the piece on which he is working. To paint his creations Wigan often uses a hair from a dead housefly, although he does not kill flies for his artistic processes. His unseen early work included a life sized carved statue of Mike Tyson and figure head of Jesus Christ and others that remain hidden in private collections.
Exhibitions and American Tour
In 2009 Wigan appeared as a guest speaker at the TED Conference in Oxford, UK. and later that year also as a guest on The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien in the USA. On The Tonight Show he exhibited, with the aid of a microscope, two of his sculptures constructed within the eye of a needle – one of Buzz Aldrin in a spacesuit next to the American Flag and another of five characters from Star Wars. Wigan explained that, while working on a grain of sand, he would sometimes use the tremor caused by his own heartbeat as a jack hammer to chisel the tiny particle. After a series of exhibitions in the UK, during 2009 and 2010 Wigan toured the USA.
BBC Birmingham Jonathan Jacob managed to catch a few words with Willard about his life, art and the future.
JJ: How old were you when you found out you had this talent?
WW: I was 5 years old. I had learning difficulties and found things difficult. I came from a poor family and wasn’t pushed I was just told to ‘try hard at school’. That was 42 years ago, and since it’s been an obsession.
JJ: How difficult is it to create the miniature art?
WW: Let me tell you, it’s very difficult. Every movement I make is so small. I have to control my breathing and heartbeat – it’s not easy! I usually work at night and have to make sure the dog isn’t around.
JJ: What’s your favourite piece of work so far?
WW: I like the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs piece, just because I had to fit so much into the head of a pin. It’s also quite a fun work of art, only 3 times bigger than a blood cell.
JJ: Yeah, the Snow White model is wicked! What’s been your biggest achievement in life?
WW: That would be the mini model of The Last Supper. It had TWELEVE disciples and Jesus – was a real challenge.
JJ: What would you say to any aspiring artists in any form?
WW: “Be original! Be creative! Be individual and make your mark …..” The Willard Wigan exhibition in The Mailbox is open for the public to view Monday – Saturday 10am – 8pm and on Sunday from 11am – 5pm. Entrance to the Willard Wigan Exhibition is £3.95 for adults and £2.95 for children and concessions.