WILLARD WIGAN: World’s most incredible microscopic artist with new exhibition
Dr. Willard Wigan’s MBE, Latest exhibition is open now at The Birmingham Contemporary Art Gallery.
Born June 1957, Willard is a world renowned British sculptor 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)
As a young boy, Willard found that both reading and writing did not come naturally to him. At that time autism, dyslexia and other specific learning differences were not well known. Convinced by his school teachers that he would amount to nothing and achieve nothing, he was used by them to demonstrate what academic failure looked like as he was unable to read or write.
With his social confidence broken, Willard ran away from school to begin a new journey. Willard decided he would show the world that nothing exists. He knew that one day his world of nothing would become everything, deducing that if people were unable to view his work, then they would not be in any position to criticise it. Willard has since aimed to make even smaller artworks, visible only with a microscope.
In 2004, Willard exhibited at The Art Lounge Gallery in Birmingham. The BBC’s Inside Out – South West noted that the works displayed included “scenes of Jesus Christ and The Last Supper, with each individual figure no bigger than an eyelash or a human hair. At less than a hundredth of an inch tall, it’s painstakingly precise work”.
In 2009 Willard 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 US. 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. Willard 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 Willard toured the US.
Willard marked the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II by sculpting the Queen’s portrait on a coffee bean; he described creating the work as “a bit of a challenge because a coffee bean crumbles and is hollow in the middle”.
In July 2007 he was made an MBE.
The Library of Birmingham exhibited his works in January 2015. On 3 February 2016 Willard was a guest on BBC Radio 4’s Midweek programme.
Willard was also honoured by the City of Wolverhampton with the keys to the city in 2018.
Today, Willard is an internationally renowned micro artist, who has been recognised by the Guinness Book of World records as the sculptor of the world’s smallest works of art.
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