Willard Wigan Shows Vanishingly Small Galleon, Prince Albert: Nanoart!
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The Armory Antique show running until Sunday evening was worth more than one visit, with many of its treasures hidden from the hasty eye.
Among the additional finds we unearthed when we revisited were the impossibly small creations by Willard Wigan, a North of Englander, now world famous for his nano artworks. The man himself was seated at the Trinity House booth, where there were two futuristic microscope stands inside which a tiny golden galleon in one and a rider on a horse in the other could be seen spotlighted, astonishing all who bent to peer into their eyepieces. The galleon with its full set of billowing sails was set upon the head of a pin, and the rider on a horse, which was – representing Prince Albert of Victorian England – was set inside the eye of a needle.
So are these delightful creations craft or art, aesthetic performance or merely a stunt? Like tiny jewels created and tempered in a furnace of concentration, magnified with a focus of attention that few human beings can rival, surely they are both beautiful gems of craftsmanship and resonant achievements of performance art.
Not only are they well executed to a degree of detail that seems utterly impossible for human hands to accomplish, but working on such a super micro level acquires the stature of performance art itself, resonant with overtones of Buddhist total acceptance of the universe, personal self negation and a celebration of the importance of every particle in the world as the canvas of the Creator. Indeed Willard reveals that in order to achieve the calm needed to work on his super Lilliputian level, he retreats to a small cabin in the woods away from his wife and child, and his heart beat slows as he enters into a meditative state.
Seemed to us that he had acquired a calm that still emanated from his tall, slim person in New York City, where the quality made him seem literally the coolest man in the city, and we told him so. We weren’t surprised when Philip Mezzatesta, who runs the Trinity House branch in New York at 24 East 64th St ((Cell 347-325-4513) where 15 of Wigna’s works will be on show for two weeks at prices ranging from $80,000 to $120,000 (smart microscope and stand included, of course, since the works are virtually invisible to the naked eye), later told us he felt he had made a real friend of Willard in his short visit here (the opening of the gallery show was on Thursday).
The 15 microscope stands are well designed and do not look too out of place next to the traditional fine art paintings in the gallery among which there are some exquisite works, including this remarkable painting of a young girl which is both beautiful and as alive as the day she posed a century ago (click the photo to enlarge it to huge dimensions) The work is by Alexei Harlamoff (1840 – 1925).
Incidentally, those inspired by these works to pursue small objects and works of art may find the comments of associate Met museum director Carrie Rebora at the interesting Met page Connections of interest, as he four minute contribution looks for tin works of art in the museum’s collection. She says “Diminutive, tiny things have always been much more appealing to me than large scale things that everyone is meant to see.”