Antsibition at Old Street Station
Something micro has landed in London...
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It’s an exhibition on an ant-sized scale celebrating the release of Marvel’s Ant-Man coming to cinemas nationwide on July 17th.
This antsibition features works of art by renowned micro-artist Willard Wigan who makes artwork so small that they fit into the eye of the needle and you require a microscope to appreciate them. But, when you do look through the lens, what you see will blow your minds.
A variety of microscopes are dotted around the small space, all centred around the prize piece – an ant-sized model of Ant-Man Paul Rudd (see below).
Standing shyishly in the corner was the man behind the magic, Willard Wigan who was kind enough to answer a few questions.
James Gilmore: Where did this opportunity come about?
Willard Wigan: Disney contacted me whilst they were still quite early on planning for the Ant Man release. The thing is, my career started with ants – I have always loved ants and ants are an inspiration to me. I am fascinated and obsessed with ants. They’re the most formidable insect on the planet – they’re the strongest animal pound for pound on the planet and I used to make little houses for them when I was 8 years old.
The dog had destroyed the ants nest and when that happened I felt sorry for the ants so I started making houses for ants, it became an obsession to go smaller. My mother said, “If I go smaller my name will get bigger”.
James Gilmore: Where did your interest in making small models really develop?
Willard Wigan: At school it was pretty hard for me because I had autism problems which wasn’t diagnosed in the 60’s so I ran away from school a couple times. It was when the dog destroyed the ants nest that I realised that I had this gift. My frontier began there, to make the smallest sculptures in history (which I managed to succeed at) and I’m going to continue to do this! To be apart of the Ant Man movie, it was a no brainer for me.
James Gilmore: What is the process then from idea to finished piece?
Willard Wigan: I have to work between my heartbeats to do this. I have to make microscopic tools from broken shards of diamond. I make tweezers from dead wasps stings, I make hooks from flattened acupuncture needles. Then I start to chizzle away, cut, manipulate and get the shape of what I want. Once the shape has been cut out which is a laborious process (which I don’t enjoy doing) but then I have to paint them using a hair from a fly.
James Gilmore: What do you mean when you say you don’t enjoy doing it?
Willard Wigan: Well, it’s painful whilst you’re doing it but afterwards you get that pleasure.
James Gilmore: The main piece then is the ‘Ant Man’ piece inside the eye of the needle. Was that difficult because you had to model it on something that pre-existed?
Willard Wigan: No, not at all. What makes it even more difficult is that I looked at the image and kept it in my head whilst doing it – I didn’t actually need the photograph, I just saw it once and went away and did it with a photographic memory. To work on that molecular level, it would be impossible for people to concede but that’s what I can do. I’ve been doing it for 53 years!
Whilst all of his work may be ant-sized, his accomplishments are far greater.
Don't miss this free antsibition by Exit 1 in Old Street Station - only running for a limited time.
Click here to read our review of Ant-Man.