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.”
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.
Many are even smaller still, with some being completely invisible to the naked eye yet, when viewed through high power magnification, the effect on the viewer is truly mesmerising. Willard, who is completely self-taught has baffled medical science and been the subject of discussions among micro-surgeons, nano-technologists and at universities worldwide. His work is ground-breaking, partly because of the astounding beauty of vision which challenges the belief system of the mind and partly because it demonstrates that if one person can create the impossible, we all have the potential to transcend our own limiting beliefs about what we are capable of.
Willard Wigan works with materials such as toothpicks, sugar crystals, and grains of rice and sand, spending months meticulously carving his materials into micro-figures like the ones displayed above.
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.