Dynamite comes in small packages, the saying goes – and in this case, the dynamite is pure miniature magic.
Sculptures tiny enough to fit in the eye of a needle or on the head of a pin feature everything from Alice in Wonderland and Albert Einstein to Christ the Redeemer and even the Duke and Duchess of Sussex – although you’ll need a magnifying glass to zoom in on the finer details.
These microscopic slivers of sculpting genius are the work of Willard Wigan (64), an artist from Wednesfield, England, who’s been creating his minute masterpieces for 50 years.
Regarded as one of the finest microsculptors in the world, Willard has been honoured by Queen Elizabeth for his services to art and twice been honoured by Guinness World Records.
And it’s easy to see why: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs balance perfectly in the eye of a needle, Homer Simpson gets to grips with Bart on the head of a pin, Elvis does his thing on another pinhead and the Hulk effortlessly breaks apart a needle.
“I work on a lot of different projects at once because working on one at a time would drive me mad,” says Willard, whose works have featured in galleries in the UK and Europe.
Many of them are too small to be seen with the naked eye and are beamed onto the walls of galleries by a projector.
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A single sculpture can be as tiny as 0,005mm. “Once I’ve made a sculpture, I use an eyelash to paint it, which is one of the hardest parts because it takes only one mistake to have to start again,” he says.
“Another challenge is controlling my breathing. I have to be very surgical in what I do, and everything is done with pinpoint precision under a microscope.”
Willard uses nylon, gold, cotton, microscopically carved wood shavings and even spider webs to create his sculptures. “Mistakes can be made through,” he says. “I was once doing a piece with Little Miss Muffet and Humpty Dumpty and put Miss Muffet’s head on Humpty Dumpty’s body – although these mistakes don’t happen often.”
Willard’s fascination with all things tiny started when he was five and created houses for ants.
His mother was his biggest fan and greatest motivator, he says. “She’d tell me that if you go small, your name will go bigger.”
His teachers were anything but encouraging, however. Willard is dyslexic and on the autism spectrum and school was a nightmare for him.
“I was ridiculed in class for not being able to read and write,” he writes on his website. “I was regularly used as a demonstration of failure to others and was told I’d amount to nothing.”
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Desperate for an escape, he’d throw himself into his ant world, creating houses of greater intricacy.
As he grew older, he started making miniature sculptures of everything that captured his imagination, including the famous Hollywood sign and the moon landing.
Willard says he enters a meditative state when he works and retreats to a place of solitude. He also often works through the night because there’s minimal disruption.
“My work has been described as the eighth wonder of the world,” he says. “I create the world’s tiniest masterpieces.”
Willard adds that his art reflects himself. “When you see my work, you discover that nothing does exist. For all those who said I’d become nothing, take another look and behold the wonders you’ll see.”
SOURCES: CATERS NEWS AGENCY/MAGAZINE FEATURES.CO.ZA