Willard Wigan Art
Many people see dyslexia as a constant challenge to overcome during daily life. Words and numbers present innumerable challenges, and make normally simple tasks a Herculean struggle. However, dyslexia has also been scientifically shown to allow those with the condition to think outside the box in ways many of us could never hope to. Willard Wigan has Dyslexia, and has always struggled to gain a grasp on numeracy and literacy, but when it didn’t seem to work he turned his attentions to the tiny things in the world around him.
Willard uses his affinity for all of the microscopic and unseen things in our world to create works of art the likes of which has never been seen. He has recreated scenes from the bible, as well as large and complicated buildings, such as The Lloyd’s Building in London. The catch is that they are so minute that they can only be seen with the help of a high-powered microscope. His ingenuity and unique talents have earned him appreciation, fame, respect and, well, a lot of money.
Such respect and recognition have been a long time coming, as Willard suffered heavily at the hands of ignorant peers at school. Teased and bullied because if his apparent lack of abilities, even teachers used him as an ‘example of failure’. Dyslexia was unrecognised in the 1960s, meaning those who were born with it were branded as merely stupid.
And so, at just 5 years old, Willard Wigan began to seek refuge from school and his unsympathetic teachers in a shed a the bottom of the garden. There, he started to create entire worlds that could fit in the palm of his hand, where he felt big and important. He even populated his little houses and shelters with miniature versions of his teachers, literally belittling them as they had so often done to him. Wigan collected any bits of detritus he could find to sculpt more and more items out of; splinters, fibres from clothing, even the legs of a fly.
Of course, after he left school Willard needed a job to support himself, which was no easy task given his lack of reading and writing abilities. He even feigned an injured hand at interviews to get out of filling them in.
He eventually found employment in a factory, where his dextrous hands could be put to good use. During the two decades he worked there, he spent his evenings and nights whittling away at his minute sculptures, slowly building a monumental collection, the entirety of which fit in a drawer. Ironically, it was the public whittling of a large bust of Will Shakespeare that got Willard noticed. He made use of an empty storefront in a shopping centre to show off his remarkable abilities, creating a lifelike bust in front of awestruck passersby. Before long, a sizeable crowd had gathered, including a local art dealer who paid £500 there and then for the finished bust, and a reporter. It would be this reporter who catapulted Wigan into fame. He showed the reporter his mind-boggling collection, which now included subjects as diverse as a polar bear, made from crushed nylon, to the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party from Alice in Wonderland.
Before long, the Willard Wigan name was known throughout art circles worldwide.
Wigan showed that through perseverance, nearly anything can be achieved, and ironically, he has his peers and teachers to thank for it. They gave him the drive to prove them wrong, that he wasn’t stupid, and that he could be a success. Now Wigan’s work is collected by renowned dealers worldwide, including David Lloyd of Tennis and entrepreneurial fame, who owns a 70-piece collection insured for more than 13 million pounds; Sir Elton John; world famous Magicians Siegfried and Roy; and Prince Charles of Wales, who named him a member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) for his art. The Prince told Wigan his artwork was “phenomenal”, and to someone who had been abandoned by those who should have helped guide him, “a moment like that means the world.”
Not only is Willard Wigan making astounding contributions to the world of Art, but to the world of science too. Scientists specialising in the use of microscopic technology are analysing his methods with interest, believing they may hold the key to improving current methods of working microscopically. This could have far-reaching implications in various fields, including surgery.
On top of giving lessons to scientists, he also has something to teach the whole of humanity, something almost all of us wish we had more of; patience.
In order to create his art, Wigan cannot even take a breath at the wrong moment, lest the piece he is working on is inhaled. This necessity has taught him both to enter a form of meditative trance and to make every single stroke count. Taking weeks and often months to finish a single piece, fitting in the eye of a needle, many of the rest of us would go mad from even attempting such a task.
He has on occasion made a mistake as all humans do, and breathed at the wrong moment. A perfect example would be when he was about to place Alice in the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, and inhaled her. 3 weeks of work, lost forever in a single breath.
However, instead of abandoning the piece, he simply remade Alice, even taking the opportunity to improve upon her. “The second one I’d done was even better.” Just like his work, his view on setbacks and achievements is inspiring, never letting himself be beaten. He sees a mistake simply as another step on the path to success. “I’ve never actually failed, because when I work, I put a challenge to myself,” he tells National Public Radio’s Liane Hansen in a radio interview. “I never really fail. If I fail, I come back again. And that’s how I always do it.”