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Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Art in the Eye of a Needle

I was privileged to see something remarkable this morning. A friend had heard a radio interview with the artist who creates the world's smallest and most wonderous works of art. His name is Willard Wigan (visit his website here - a must). 
Willard Wigan talking to his new fans!!
Now when I say that his artwork is created in the eye of a needle I don't mean a large darning needle eye. I mean a small regular needle eye - one of those eye's that require you to lick the cotton a million times just to get the cotton through the eye. 
The eye of the needle

The microscope needed for each piece of artwork - this is The Last Supper (not able to be photographed!!)
And inside each eye is the most beautious works of art I have ever seen. The Last Supper can be seen in all its glory - just as you would see it in Leonardo da Vinci's famed painting. Except that it is so small that you need to view it (inside the needle) through a strong microscope. His art is created in such minute proportions that he has changed the face of art which can hardly be seen by the naked eye.
The Last Supper
The Pieta
This is a man who had learning difficulties and couldn't read or write. As he says on his website: “It began when I was five years old. I started making houses for ants because I thought they needed somewhere to live. Then I made them shoes and hats. It was a fantasy world I escaped to. That’s how my career as a micro-sculptor began.” As he says in this wonderful TED video here "just because we can't see it doesn't mean there is nothing there".

He is able to slow down his heartbeat (he works between heartbeats) and he has the stillest pointer finger I have ever seen! He was in the foyer of the ANZ Head office and asked a young fellow to point his finger at his finger - it was not possible - you try it - your finger wobbles! And when making sculptures this small finger wobble is an absolute no no. He makes the sculptures and then places them inside the needle. We saw one today of a racehorse with rider - and the whip can be removed. Another was a fairy with wings which were cut down (a lot) from the wings of a dead fly. He chatted to his new-found admirers and said that he needs to be so careful with his work as he had been know to inhale them! Each piece takes him 2-3+ months to create.
Fairy wings - made out of cut down fly wings
On searching Google I saw that his work is now being sold for up to $11 million - not bad for a boy who couldn't read or write! He has also combined with the renowned watchmakers Greubel Forsey - and the watch shown ($2 million) has a gold three-masted sailing ship in the winder. Listen here to a wonderful video with the watchmakers and Willard. Willard himself was wearing a watch which incorporated what looked like a miniature child's wind up street organ. Extraordinary!
The watch with the gold three masted sailing ship in the wind up!
If you have recently been watching the Australian Open Tennis you may have seen a new and rather quirky ad for the ANZ Bank with Aussie actor Simon Baker from the US Television show The Mentalist in which he talks about 'Art in the eye of a needle'. And there they were right here in Melbourne at ANZ headquarters - just for a 4 hour period. But don't worry the artwork is off the National Gallery of Victoria. Unfortunately although it is listed on Willard's website as 18-27 January 2014 I can find no reference to it on the NGV website! He also told us that the exhibition will be moving around Australia. I just can't find where or when! Keep an eye out for it - it is worth persuing. It was truly remarkable.

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