Thursday, 29 January 2015

Guest interview: “I saw the tiniest art in the world!”

This time I talk to MyVeryOwnDaughter, age 8, who went to see the art of Willard Wigan who makes micro-sculptures inside the eye of a needle that can only be seen through a microscope! The exhibition was at the Library of Birmingham.
First of all, what did you think of the new library in Birmingham?
It’s funky and wacky and amazing. I thought it would just be a normal library with books. I didn’t know it would be so big and have moving platforms like in airports. I liked everything, the round shelves and the chairs, and the terrace was epic. I wish we'd had more time. I wanted to explore it all, like go up to the top to the Secret Garden.
What was the art gallery like?
It looked quite plain because it was just a room with microscopes dotted around. The microscopes were too high for me but then I noticed they had these stools, the white ones with the grippy bits you get in a bathroom, like when you're little and you can’t reach the sink or the toilet. 
What did you think when you saw his art down the microscope?
I thought it’s just like HUMANLY IMPOSSIBLE because you can’t get your hands to do such tiny things. 
When you looked at the actual needle – I mean not through the microscope –  the eye was just like a little slit and you couldn’t see ANYTHING in it. It’s hard for me to even thread a needle and the needles he does it in are much smaller than the ones I’ve got. [Goes to get needle.]
Do you think he’s a superhuman?
No, he’s just a person. He has something special about him that makes him be able to concentrate hard to do tiny movements. You can’t put him in any category. He’s in his own category.
by Toybot Studios/CC BY-NC 2.0
Do you think it’s a strange thing to do?
I think it’s like he’s born to do it. If that’s his passion to do art inside a needle, then it’s a good choice. Some of the art was on his eyelashes. That's a bit weird. I wouldn’t pull out one of my eyelashes to do art. I’d use a fake eyelash.
You met him, didn’t you? What did you think?
I couldn’t believe he was actually there! I thought his hands would be less big, like more delicate and nimbly. He said it all started with ants, making houses and shoes and hats for ants when he was 5. Then his mum said, “Go smaller, go smaller. What about the bacteria? Make stuff for them.” It got him into a fantasy world. He used to sneak down to the shed in his garden where the ants were instead of going to school. His naughtiness kind of helped him to grow up into this artist.
What else did you find out about him?
He has to do his art in between his heartbeats. That’d be really frustrating because my heart’s beating really fast. Feel it. [I put my hand on her chest.] You’d be like “Oh, I really want to finish that bit now but I can’t”. And he has to be careful not to breathe in his art. That’d be hard because sometimes I take really big breaths.
by Toybot Studios/CC BY-NC 2.0
Did you have a favourite piece?
Not really because they were all different. Each one was better than the last one. But if I HAD to choose one, I'd probably choose The Four Seasons where he'd lined up four trees, summer, autumn, winter and spring, in four needles.

What else would you like to see him make into a miniature?
He could do a solar system with all the planets and stars and the Milky Way.

Did it make you want to go home and make miniature stuff?
No! It’s too fiddly. If I was going to choose an animal to make hats and shoes for, I wouldn’t choose ants! So for inspirationalness, it gets 0 out of 10, but for amazingness it gets AT LEAST 9 out of 10.

Find out more about Willard Wigan and announcements of his future exhibitions here.
Find out more about the Library of Birmingham and their full programme of family events here. 


  1. Wow I can't even imagine this ... Is it still on. ?

    1. Afraid it's finished now, Louise, but keep an eye out on his website (at bottom of blog post) for future exhibitions. There is talk of him having a permanent exhibition at Birmingham Library at some point.