Visitors to Museum of the Jewellery Quarter will be amongst the first people in the city to see new micro-sculptures by internationally renowned artist Willard Wigan, at a new exhibition opening at the museum on Friday 4th August.
Willard Wigan MBE: In The Eye of The Needle will showcase twenty-one miniature works from Willard Wigan’s collection which sit within the eye of a needle or on the head of a pin. Many of the artworks have never been seen in Birmingham before, including the world’s smallest Pair of glasses on a pin head, Hatty Mcdaniels from Gone with the Wind, and Fred Hammond, the Grammy Award Winning Gospel Singer.
Running from Friday 4th August to Saturday 28th October the exhibition will be hosted in the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter’s new commercial gallery space in the Smith & Pepper Tea Room. The showcase is Willard’s first exhibition in the city since displaying artworks at the Library of Birmingham in 2015.
The micro sculptor, who was born in Wolverhampton, is famous for sculpting the world’s smallest works of art, and has been celebrated in the Guinness Book of World records, as well as being awarded an MBE for services to art in 2007.
Alongside the new pieces, visitors will be able to see some of Wigan’s most popular sculptures which include “Evolution (from ape to man)”, “The Last Supper”, “Christ the Redeemer”, “Gold Galleon on a pinhead” and the Guinness World Record holding sculpture “Golden Voyage” - a motorbike carved from specs of gold inside a hollowed out human hair.
Inspired to capture the attention and awe of his subject matter in the smallest and most microscopic of detail, Wigan imagines and creates a microscopic world that entices people to look closer.
Wigan has gained international acclaim as his works have fascinated viewers around the world. As recognition of his success he was commissioned to replicate the Coronation Crown in celebration of HRH Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee. The delivered artwork is now housed at Buckingham Palace.
“I’m delighted to be bringing my work back to Birmingham at the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter” said the artist. “Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter is very special to me as so many people in the area, including Kenny Broadhurst of Mr Chain, Mike Meeks of Meek’s and Daz and his colleagues at Walshes Jewellery Supplies, have supported me throughout my career and generously supplied me with tools that I’ve adapted and materials which have been invaluable in assisting me with my work.”
For those looking to have their own miniature masterpiece, some of the artworks will be available for sale. Visitors should speak to staff at the exhibition for more details.
Oliver Buckley, Museum Manager Heritage Sites at Birmingham Museums Trust, said: “We are so excited to be showcasing Willard Wigan’s fascinating work at the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, especially the new pieces, never seen in Birmingham before.
“Willard’s work shows true dedication to his craft and we can’t wait for the people of Birmingham to get up close with these mesmerising miniature artworks. We continue to celebrate the museum’s 25th anniversary this year, offering visitors a unique glimpse of working life in Birmingham’s famous Jewellery Quarter, and this show is a brilliant way to bring people to the site to experience a tiny exhibition that will have a very big impact.”
The exhibition will be open from Friday 4th August to Saturday 28th October, Tuesday to Saturday 10.30am – 5.00pm. Entry to the exhibition, including a tour of the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, costs £10 for adults, £5 for children and £8 for concessions. There will also be Willard Wigan exhibition only tickets available - costs £5 for adults, £2.50 for children and £4 for concessions.
To find out more visit birminghammuseums.org.uk/jewellery.
Willard Wigan has also designed a bear for The Big Sleuth trail which will be on display at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery from Monday 10th July. The bear will have a surprising secret that visitors will need to discover when they visit.
Museum of the Jewellery Quarter is currently recruiting for Volunteer Exhibition Interpreters to work at the exhibition. If you have an interest in Willard Wigan’s work and would like to share this exhibition with visitors please find out more and apply online here: birminghammuseums.org.uk/volunteering