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Mini Days Out: Miniature Masterpieces by Dr Willard Wigan MBE

I recently had the pleasure of visiting the temporary exhibition 'Miniature Masterpieces' at Wollaton Hall, by sculptural artist Dr. Willard Wigan, MBE, as part of his ‘Disappearing World’ collection.

Dr. Willard is famous for his handmade micro sculptures which truly have to be seen to be believed. They are barely millimetres in size and many fit inside the eye of a needle.

There's no photography allowed within the exhibition, however it would have been impossible for me to photograph them anyway. Each sculpture is barely a millimetre wide and only viewable through a microscope.

Even seeing photos of his work online (check them out here), it's difficult to truly fathom the scale. Part of me assumed they must be big darning needles, but no, they're the same fine needles I use to sew 12th scale patchwork quilts.

My personal favourite was a tiny Einstein, barely a couple of millimetres tall. And yet the details were astonishing, including gold framed spectacles with glass lenses. No wonder each sculpture takes over 200 hours!

The most mind-blowing sculpture (they were all mind-blowing) was a golden bicycle nestled inside a tiny piece of hollowed out beard stubble. It looked like a literal piece of dust to the naked eye, yet under the microscope lens it was a detailed and obvious bicycle. There was a video piece explaining how Dr Willard slows his pulse to 40 beats a second and holds his breath to work on his sculptures, but still I cannot fathom how he achieved this. A true master of miniatures.

Great Big Tiny Design Challenge House

And as an extra mini bonus, there was also the finished house from the Great Big Tiny Design Challenge on display, a show on which Dr Willard Wigan was a judge.

This was a UK TV show in which contestants teamed up to create a room in a particular style, completing each room in 8 hours. Even though I watched the series, once again the everything is better in the flesh! I can't believe the detail achieved in such a short time. Kudos to all the miniaturists involved.

Visiting info

Entry to Wollaton Hall in Nottinghamshire, is a free and includes lots more to see, such as a T-rex skeleton and a whole host of taxidermy, a huge deer park and a great outdoors kids' play area, a café and deli.

There is plenty of parking, which costs £5. I thought this was pretty reasonable considering how much there is to see.

The many steps and cobbles of the ancient Wollaton Hall mean disabled accessibility is limited to certain paths. The hall is however equipped with a lift on the inside, and an external lift, so you should be able to view the exhibitions with a little planning. I'd still recommend calling and asking as not being disabled myself I will surely have overlooked done accessibility issues.

The only thing I didn't appreciate was the baby changing sign looks like it's only for mums. Dads care for their children too these days. Other than that, the facilities were great and well worth the visit, even for non-miniaturists!

The 'Miniature Masterpieces' exhibition is open til October 2023.


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