Willard Wigan: Master of Miniature Marvels and Champion of Creativity
Willard Wigan is a renowned British artist and sculptor who is best known for his incredible micro-sculptures, which are often described as some of the smallest artworks in the world. Born on June 15, 1957, in Birmingham, England, Wigan has gained international recognition for his exceptional talent and unique artistic approach.
Early Life and Inspiration: Willard Wigan’s fascination with tiny objects and miniature art began in his childhood. He struggled with dyslexia and found it challenging to excel in traditional academic subjects. However, he discovered that he had an extraordinary ability to create minuscule sculptures. His inspiration came from the world of insects, which he observed closely as a child. He was captivated by the intricate details of these tiny creatures, which later became a significant influence on his art.
Micro-Sculpting Technique: Wigan’s micro-sculptures are incredibly small, often measuring no more than a few millimeters in size. He uses a combination of unconventional tools, including needles, pins, and fine brushes, to create these intricate masterpieces. To maintain precision, he often sculpts between heartbeats to minimize hand tremors.
Notable Works and Achievements: Over the years, Willard Wigan has created a vast array of miniature sculptures, each with astonishing detail. Some of his most notable works include sculptures placed within the eye of a needle, on pinheads, or even on grains of sand. His subjects vary, ranging from iconic figures like Elvis Presley and Nelson Mandela to scenes from literature and mythology.
Wigan’s works have been displayed in prestigious galleries and exhibitions worldwide, and they have garnered attention from art enthusiasts, collectors, and celebrities alike. His art has been praised for its incredible craftsmanship and ability to captivate viewers despite their minuscule size.
Challenges and Dedication: Creating micro-sculptures at this scale is an incredibly demanding and time-consuming process. It often takes weeks or even months to complete a single piece. Wigan has mentioned that his work can be emotionally and physically draining, but his dedication to his craft drives him to persevere.
Recognition and Awards: Willard Wigan’s unique talent has earned him numerous awards and honors throughout his career. He was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) by Queen Elizabeth II in 2007 for his services to art. He has also received honorary degrees and recognition from various institutions and organizations.
Legacy: Willard Wigan’s micro-sculptures continue to inspire artists and amaze audiences worldwide. His ability to turn everyday materials into extraordinary art has pushed the boundaries of what is possible in the world of fine art. His work serves as a testament to the power of creativity and the dedication required to achieve artistic excellence.
In addition to his artistic endeavors, Willard Wigan is an advocate for dyslexia awareness and often shares his story to inspire others who face learning challenges. His journey from struggling with dyslexia to becoming a celebrated artist is a testament to the transformative power of passion and determination in the face of adversity.
Microscopic sculptures by Willard Wigan
Willard Wigan MBE (born 1957) is a sculptor from Wolverhampton, England, who makes minute work, where a figure can be as small as 0.005mm tall. He was awarded an MBE for services to art in July 2007. He is is the only person in the world who can create what can only be described as ‘micro art‘.
Willard Wigan is the creator of the world’s smallest sculptures, often taking months to complete one, working between heartbeats to avoid hand tremors: “You have to control the whole nervous system, you have to work between the heartbeat – the pulse of your finger can destroy the work.” Wigan uses a tiny surgical blade to carve microscopic figures out of rice, and fragments of grains of sand and sugar, which are then mounted on pinheads. To paint his creations, he uses a hair plucked from a dead fly (the fly has to have died from natural causes, as he refuses to kill them for the sake of his art). His sculptures have included a Santa Claus and a copy of the FIFA World Cup trophy, both about 0.005mm tall, and a boxing ring with Muhammad Ali figure which fits onto the head of a match.
His concentration is intense when working like this and he feels mentally and physically drained at the end of it.
Wigan has said this of his work:
Though my sculptures are quite small, it’s important for people to realize that I am life-size. Of course, at times, when I’m working on a piece, I might come to believe that I myself am microscopic. That’s how involved in my work I become. My tiny world becomes everything to me.
A necessarily small touring exhibition of his work visited several cities in the UK in 2007 and 2008 (currently at the shop and gallery attached to the Hard Days Night Hotel in Liverpool, until 30 September 2008). The display includes a piece especially made for Liverpool’s year as Capital of Culture.
Willard Wigan: Hold your breath for micro-sculpture | TED