The University of Warwick has honoured internationally renowned micro-artist Willard Wigan MBE, with an honorary doctorate.
The man famed for sculpting the Queen’s coronation crown on a pinhead and putting not one, but nine camels through the eye of a needle, was made Doctor of Letters at the first of Warwick’s winter degree ceremonies yesterday.
The Wolverhampton-born and Birmingham-based artist described his feelings on being presented with the award.
He said: “It’s the most exciting time of my career as an artist and creator of the smallest sculptures of the world. I’ve finally been honoured with something very big for something very small. Put it this way, If I was dreaming I wouldn’t want anyone to wake me up right now, because it the best feeling I’ve ever had, to be recognised.”
Suffering from undiagnosed dyslexia and mild autism, Mr Wigan struggled at school.
He said: “This occasion for me has made me look back at my past, and look at what that school teacher said to me – she said to me, I don’t have a brain. They said that to the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz, but they made a mistake!
“I had to create my own little world which would speak for me, because academically I couldn’t express myself. Not because I was illiterate, I had a learning difference, that’s all. But at the time it wasn’t diagnosed, what I had, having this autistic I don’t call it a problem, I call it a blessing. Because if you flip the coin, look where I am today. So if I never had it I wouldn’t be who I am.”
Despite struggling with school, Mr Wigan’s autism allowed him to have a different view of life, which has developed into a career creating tiny and wondrous pieces of art.
He said: “My autism was making me find something that would be irrelevant to other people. So I would always believe things. One time there was a trip to Nuneaton and I didn’t want to go because I kept thinking you’d starve, I kept thinking nobody would have anything to eat! My brain was creative in such a way that it would form a novel. I had to defend myself with my work – the right thing was for me to carry on and create works of wonder.”
Mr Wigan’s mother played a very important part in his success.
He said: “My mother would say to me, ‘if it isn’t small enough – it isn’t big enough’. So I had to go on a journey to honour my mother’s words.
“I suppose the word ‘nothing’ comes to mind – but – there is no such thing as nothing. I wanted to show people how big ‘nothing’ can become. If you can’t see something – it doesn’t mean it’s not there. We all came from this microscopic world anyway – so I put a different perspective on the way we see the world, because that’s where we all come from. Our bodies [are] made up of atoms and antibodies that fight off tiny little things that cause problems. So my work is a message. It’s saying: ‘the beginning’. A million miles starts with one step; when it rains it starts with one raindrop. I don’t think there is a bigger message than what I do.”
Giving advice to young people who perhaps don’t feel big enough to tackle the world, he said:
“Persistence and belief and your mind set – you’ve got to to believe in what you do and as long as you have that belief, you can do anything. Your brain is a very powerful thing, and if you want to do something – within reason – you can do it. If you tell yourself you can’t do it – it won’t happen.”
Mr Wigan is continuing on his artistic journey and has lots ideas for new pieces of work, covering everything from nursery rhymes to the medical world. But he has one important thing he wants to continue to achieve. He said: “As long as I inspire people, that’s all that matters.”
18 January 2018
“It’s the best feeling I’ve ever had,"
Micro artist, Willard Wigan MBE, receives honorary doctorate from The University of Warwick.
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