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Dyslexia made me big in tiny art

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Lady Bracknell | 10:17 UK time, Monday, 10 April 2006

When Willard Wigan, who has dyslexia, started school in 1962, he wasn't exactly blessed with forward-thinking teachers. He was considered illiterate by them, and his work was described as "disgusting" to the other children in the class.

"I was programmed to believe that everything I did was no good", he says, "and I believed that". As a result, Willard used to truant from school. He spent a lot of time in the woods, and started to build tiny props for insects. He then moved on to carving.

"I did little sculptures of the teachers. They made me feel small, so I wanted to make them look small in my child's mind."

Since that time, Willard's work has got smaller and smaller, and "he is now emerging as the most globally celebrated micro-miniaturist of all time" - at least, according to his website.

Take a look at some examples of his art. Most are so small that they can't be seen by the naked eye.

In order to carve in such painstakingly minute detail - where even the slightest tremor in his hands would be catastrophic - Willard has taught himself to slow down his breathing and heart, and to work in the spaces between heartbeats. He can keep still for 22 hours without moving.

In an interview with Liza Tenzin-Dolma, Willard says:

"I have now carved a ship on an eyelash. A girl in the eye of a needle. A village on a speck of dust - with trees and everything. I've done a cottage with a garden on a pin-head; a camel in the eye of a needle; Samson splitting a human hair. I've done Stuart Little in the eye of a needle; Adam and Eve on a pencil head; Goldilocks and the three Bears on a toothpick. And Elvis Presley in the eye of a needle.

"Now I'm being appreciated, accepted, recognised - not for being dyslexic, but for who I am as a person, and for my skills.

"What was done to me, being made to feel small, has made me greater."

• If you'd like to see some of Willard's work up close, it's currently being exhibited in the Harvey Nicholls store in Manchester.

• Visit The Perorations of Lady Bracknell


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