Sometimes I look at a work of art and am in awe of the skill, time, and patience it must have taken to create. When I came across Wilard Wigan’s micro-sculpture, I (who can’t see small type on a page even with my glasses) was baffled and amazed.
Born in 1957 in Birmingham, Willard Wigan has dyslexia and learning difficulties. As a boy, he was often ridiculed by teachers and classmates, making him feel worthless and small. It was this feeling of smallness that led Wigan to micro-miniatures. At the age of five, he was fascinated with ants and sculpted houses, furniture and even clothing for them. Thus began the career of the self-taught artist.
Wigan’s work has evolved to a level that has people in the artistic and scientific worlds talking. Using a tiny surgical blade, Wigan carves figures from fragments of gold and grains of sand which are later painted with the hair of a dead fly. His completed sculptures typically sit on the head of a pin, the tip of an eyelash, or within the eye of a needle and can only be viewed with a microscope.
To create his works Willard must enter a meditative state where he slows his pulse to keep his hands steady and then sculpts between heartbeats. The vibration caused by external noise, or even his own breath can cause a piece of work to be damaged or destroyed. Wigan admits once, after painstaking hours of work, to inhaling one of the characters from his Alice in Wonderland piece.
Willard’s art has been collected by the likes of Prince Charles, Elton John, and Mike Tyson, among others. In May 2007, Wigan’s 70 piece collection was purchased by tennis player David Lloyd for an undisclosed amount. Lloyd has insured the works for over eleven million pounds. Willard has also been asked to speak at the July 2009 TED.com world conference.
For more information, visit Willard-Wigan.com, or a google search will provide thousands of links to articles and videos about this amazingly intricate work.