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  • Writer's pictureDr Willard Wigan MBE

Celebrating Our Sisters - Black History Month 2023

Willard's Mum Zeta Wiggan. "Throw a grain of sand into the sea and create a tidal wave of success, show the world just how big your work is, even though you can't see it" - Zeta Wigan

Willard's Mum Zeta Wiggan wearing a nice hat
Willard's Mum Zeta Wiggan

National Black History Month origins originated in 1915 when historian and author, Dr. Carter G. Woodson, founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. Today, this organisation is recognized as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. Fast forward to 1987, marking the 150th anniversary of the abolition of slavery in the Caribbean, and the first Black History Month in the UK took centre stage. This pivotal event was orchestrated by Akyaaba Addai-Sebo, who had arrived in the UK from Ghana as a refugee in 1984. Celebrating Our Sisters - Black History Month 2023

Willard Wigan MBE
Dr Willard Wiggan MBE the eighth Wonder of the World

In my journey as a black artist, I've had the privilege of crafting numerous iconic sculptures portraying significant figures from black history. I'm deeply passionate about creating art that connects me with my heritage and offers a diverse range of experiences to my followers. Exploring my culture has been a profound and enriching experience. It allows me to incorporate new inspirations into my work and gain insights I didn't possess before. This process broadens my understanding of black heritage, providing me with a more comprehensive perspective on historical and contemporary events.


This year’s theme is ‘Celebrating our sisters’, focusing on the vital role Black women have played in shaping history, inspiring change, and building communities. Celebrating Our Sisters - Black History Month 2023


Soul Diva Beverley Knight in the Eye of a Needle Microsculpture

This micro sculpture is my tribute to one of my favourite British female soul singers of all time. Beverley Knight is a highly talented singer, recording artist and musical theatre actress, who grew up in Wolverhampton, England. She began singing in schools and church choirs, and 1995, she took the UK soul scene by storm with her debut album B-Funk, gaining an international fanbase in more than 20 countries with fans all over the world. In 1998 Beverley released the hugely successful second album Prodigal Sista and in 1999 triumphed at the MOBO Awards winning Best R&B Artist and Best Album.


This piece took me six weeks to complete, carved from kevlar, flakes of 24-carat gold for the dress, and I painted the micro sculpture using the hair from a fly.

Beverley Knight in the eye of a needle
Soul Diva Beverley Knight in the Eye of a Needle Microsculpture

Lady in Red Oprah Winfrey 2008 in the Eye of a Needle Microsculpture

I was inspired to create this piece after touring America. Oprah Gail Winfrey is an American talk show host, television producer, actress, author, and media proprietor. She is best known for her talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, broadcast from Chicago, which ran in national syndication for 25 years, from 1986 to 2011. The piece is made from gold, kevlar, nylon and painted using an eyelash as a paintbrush.

Oprah Winfrey 2008  in the Eye of a Needle Microsculpture
Lady in Red Oprah Winfrey 2008 in the Eye of a Needle Microsculpture

Hattie Mcdaniels in the Eye of a Needle Microsculpture

The first African American to win an Oscar - Hattie McDaniel

Hattie McDaniel was a very influential and talented actress her story inspired me to create this piece back in 2004 as a tribute to her lifetime of achievements. Hattie was an American actress, singer-songwriter, and comedian. She won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as "Mammy” in Gone with the Wind (1939), and she was the first African American to win an Oscar.


This piece I made was way back in 2004-5, using cable ties, shards of wood, and 24-carat gold for the chain. The micro sculpture was painted, using a dog hair attached to the end of a scalpel blade.

Hattie Mcdaniels in the Eye of a Needle
Hattie Mcdaniels in the Eye of a Needle Microsculpture

Princes and the Frog (2010) in the Eye of a Needle Microsculpture

Willard’s love of Disney, Pixar and Marvel animated films is what drives him to produce detailed sculptures of well-known animated characters that are fun, highly detailed and just mind-blowing tiny. Willard’s micro sculpture was placed in the eye of a darners needle and measures around 800 microns in height and 45 microns in diameter. It is made from kevlar, nylon, and glass and was painted with a paintbrush created from the hair of a dog.


The Princess and the Frog is a 2009 American animated musical fantasy film produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures. The 49th Disney animated feature film, film is loosely based on the novel The Frog Princess by Elizabeth Dawson Baker.

Disney Princess and the Frog
Princes and the Frog (2010) in the Eye of a Needle Microsculpture

Frederick William Hammond in the Eye of a Needle Microsculpture

Since childhood, I've always enjoyed the joyful, loving, sound of Gospel music. Being, an admirer of all kinds of music growing up I felt I needed to create a tribute micro sculpture of the phenomenal Frederick William Hammond. He is a vocalist, songwriter, musician, and Grammy Award-Winning artist, who is known for using a variety of different styles in his music such as R&B, hip-hop, and disco. His gift to combine the soul of gospel music with the different genres of urban street music was a blessing from God.


He also launched the Urban Entertainment Company Hammond Family Entertainment, Inc., and he has worked with music icons including, the Williams Brothers, Yolanda Adams, Snoop Dogg, Kanye West and many other famous icons of the music industry.

The piece took me around two weeks to complete. I made the sculpture from plastic fibres I scraped from one of his albums, nylon taken from the cover of a bible, and I used 24-caret gold scraped from my chain for his belt. The microsculpture measures around 150-200 microns tall, and 40-50 microns in circumference. The detailing on the piece, his eyes and glasses measure in microns. I painted the piece using my eyelashes.

Celebrating Our Sisters - Black History Month 2023
Frederick William Hammond in the Eye of a Needle Microsculpture

Charlie Parker in the Eye of a Needle Microsculpture - Nickname the Bird 🕊

Charlie Parker was an American jazz saxophonist and composer. He was a highly influential soloist and leading figure in the development of bebop. Parker was a blazingly fast virtuoso and introduced revolutionary harmonic ideas into jazz, including rapid passing chords, new variants of altered chords, and chord substitutions.

I made this piece out of kevlar, plastic shards, and 24-caret gold for the saxophone. I painted the piece using hair from a dog.

Celebrating Our Sisters - Black History Month 2023
Charlie Parker in the Eye of a Needle Microsculpture - Nickname the Bird 🕊

The Fastest Man on the Planet in the Eye of a Needle Microsculpture (2015)

I created the micro art pieces as a tribute to the fastest man on the planet. They were on display at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2015. I carved the figure of Usain Bolt "Bolting" in his trademark pose. He won 8 gold medals in 3 Olympics, and he only ran for less than 115 seconds on the track, but for those 2 minutes, he trained for 20 years. The current men's world record is 9.58 seconds, set by Bolt in 2009.

Usain Bolt in the eye of a needle by Dr Willard Wigan MBE
The Fastest Man on the Planet in the Eye of a Needle Microsculpture (2015)

Equal Balance in the Eye of a Needle Microsculpture (2008)

The piece took seven weeks to create. The micro sculptures measure around a few hundred microns and it was created from fibres from a pair of running shoes and painted using the hair, that was fixed to the end of a scalpel blade.

Two children sitting
Equal Balance in the Eye of a Needle Microsculpture (2008)

Willard's equality interpretation is a micro sculpture of an equally balanced see-saw of both black and white characters. The micro sculpture is of two children sitting on a see-saw and was inspired by the famous 17-minute speech which was delivered by Dr Martin Luther King in Washington DC in August 1963. Willard pays tribute to Dr King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech; ‘Man, woman, child, whether black or white should have the right to all freedoms of equality and opportunity permitting them to each lead normal life’. The micro sculpture was made from different nylon fibres, and gold from his chain, and was painted using human hair. The piece can be moved up and down, depicting a tilt in the balance of power and equality.

Black Supremacy speech
Martin Luther King

Thanks, Dr Willard Wigan MBE

#blackhistorymonth #Blackhistorymonth2023 #blackhistory #blacklivesmatter #blackexcellence

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