Willard Wigan - In the Eye of a Needle
Reception: 6-8pm Thursday 7 February 2008 Continues until Saturday 16 February 2008
It is not every day you visit an art gallery to find that the exhibition is visible only through the lens of a microscope, but art enthusiasts visiting Dublin's Oisín Gallery are set to be very surprised. In an exhibition by world-renowned micro-sculptor, Willard Wigan, tiny sculptures no larger than a pinhead are on display underneath high-powered microscopes.
Among the pieces on display are reproductions of Michelangelo's 'David', alongside Rolls Royce's 'Spirit of Justice' and Ben Hur in a chariot; each measuring less than the full-stop at the end of this sentence.
Willard Wigan has developed his technique and seemingly impossible level of hand-eye co-ordination for over 40 years and has sculpted pieces from gold, carbon fibre, nylon and even grains of sand. Working in total solitude at his studio in Jersey, he often works for up to twenty-two hours at a time, with individual pieces taking approximately two months to complete. In order to create these painstakingly precise sculptures, Wigan holds his breath for up to two minutes to reduce his pulse rate, thus allowing him a few seconds between heartbeats to insert and apply his tools and minimising the risk of inhaling or damaging his sculptures.
"The stillness of it is very important - you have to control the whole nervous system, you have to work between the heartbeats - the pulse of your finger can destroy the work. That's when the real concentration has to come out - mind, body and soul has to give in order to do this."
Resulting from severe dyslexia, which remained undiagnosed until late adolescence, Wigan felt humiliated as a child and retreated into a world of his own; a world where his artwork was so small that it, and he could not be criticised. He began building small homes for ants and insects, eventually developing an ability to sculpt in an unprecedented and truly remarkable way.
"Call me eccentric, I suppose, but when I was little I had a fascination for ants so I set about making houses for them. I got obsessed with miniature things. (...) A lot of people look at it and think 'is it a trick?’ You get them checking the microscopes to see if there is any illusion. To me that's a compliment."
And this curiosity has obviously paid off - Wigan is now the world's most revered micro-miniaturists attracting attention from all over the globe.
Wigan’s remaining 70-piece collection, valued at £11.2 million, was purchased by David Lloyd, the former Davis Cup tennis captain and entrepreneur, who later commissioned Wigan to produce a micro-sculpture entitled 'Lloyd's of London on a Pin Head', which sold in July 2007 at a private auction for £94,000, with proceeds from the sale going to the Prince's Trust.
Committed to bringing these fascinating works to the public, the David Lloyd Collection is currently touring the United Kingdom and will be shown for the first time in Ireland at Oisín Gallery before commencing a tour of the United States later this year, where he has been invited to appear on televisions Oprah Winfrey Show, Jay Leno and Martha Stewart. Wigan's work has a tendency to attract enormous attention; over 500,000 people attended his exhibition in Jersey alone.
Collectors of Wigan’s work include the former heavyweight boxing champion of the world, Mike Tyson, Sir Elton John, and HRH The Prince of Wales who honoured the artist with an MBE in July 2007 for his services to art.
"It's fantastic. When people buy my work it is a piece of my soul, a piece of my misery which I went through to do it. Everybody's happy - I've introduced people to my world, the world of Willard Wigan, the world that we don't think exists."
The exhibition comprises of 18 micro-sculptures and a selection of framed and signed limited edition lambda prints (each an edition of 50). All works and displayed prints are available for purchase. If you have any enquiries regarding purchasing the artworks and or prints, please speak to a member of the gallery's staff on +353 1 661 1315, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
To request high-resolution images, interview with the artist or further information, contact Antoinette on +353 1 6611315 email@example.com
Selected Press Coverage from UK tour:
Paintings in the exhibition