This week the ‘100 Masters’ website was launched – giving the public the chance to vote for their favourite craftsperson from the Black Country.
As part of the launch, micro-sculptor Willard Wigan unveiled his latest exhibition at Wolverhampton’s Light House called ‘Homecoming’, centred around Noddy Holder, who was present at the launch (watch Noddy see the sculpture for the first time in the video below).
Meeting Noddy Holder is undoubtedly a highlight of my career so far – to a lot of people he’s only remembered at Christmas for his platinum selling ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’ and that famous ‘It’s Chriiiiiiiiiistmmaaaaas’ shriek.
However he’s work with Slade was prolific, alongside Jimmy Lea he wrote the majority of the bands songs and sifting through their greatest hits alone is two hours of well-crafted listening.
Slade, to me, have always been one of those bands that don’t get enough credit for their creative output, maybe it was the daft outfits, Black Country accents, or having a Christmas song, who knows but they don’t get the credit they deserve.
Musicians over the decades have been vocal about Slade’s inspiration on them including Nirvana, Oasis, Sex Pistols, The Clash, Kiss and Manic Street Preachers to name a few.
So it was quite fitting that Willard Wigan used his immense talent to micro-sculpt the Midlands legend.
Sat inside the Light House, fittingly overlooking the Slade Rooms, read my conversation with Noddy Holder below.
No doubt, you feel honoured by this micro-sculpture?
I feel incredibly honoured, of all the people he could have done, from the music fraternity, he’s chosen me, I’m speechless quite frankly.
I knew it would be good before I saw it, but when I looked down the lens just and saw it, it actually looks like me, I thought it would be similar to me, but it actually does look like me, the face, the hair, the build of the body, everything it’s phenomenal.
And to think it’s in the eye of a needle, and the material he’s used and the implements he’s used to do it, it’s just mind blowing. He really is the greatest artist of this genre in the world. So to be done by him is a huge honour.
What do you think this exhibition says about the Black Country?
I’m a great believer in promoting the Midlands and the Black Country all around the world, I mean I’ve not lived here for many years now, but I’ve still got my accent and I’ve been in the music business for over 50 years and I’ve always promoted the Black Country around the world in my profession and Willard is doing the same.
A lot of people say ‘nothing happens in the Midlands, you’ve got nothing in the Midlands’ but I say ‘have you been to the Midlands’? And they usually say no!
So I say ‘how the hell do you know then? You should come and see what we’ve got here, the talent we’ve got here, the warm heartedness of the people, the humour of the people and then you’ll realize what the Midlands is all about and what the Black Country is all about.’
And Willard is promoting that all around the world as he always has and you’ve got to remember these sculptures he’s done, can never be broken because they’re that tiny that they will last forever.
So it’s something that will go on from generation to generation, hopefully as our music will – so to say it’s a great honour is an understatement, I’m beyond pleased it’s just fabulous.
Did you expect to ever be micro-sculptured?
Never! It’s the last thing I’d have expected. If you’d asked me at the start of my career ‘what’s the last thing you’d ever have expected in 50 years time’ – well, it would have never entered my head, I’d never think I’d micro-sculpted.
I’ve been sculptured before, in clay, but never been micro-sculpted.
What would be your advice to aspiring musicians from the Black Country?
When people ask me for advice if they want to go into music, when your as long in the tooth as I am, I say the first thing to do is get a good manager, a good lawyer and a good accountant.
Would you ever play with Slade again?
Probably not now, I think too much water has gone under the bridge, we haven’t played with one another for very many years now, I think that ship has sailed, so probably not.
How does it feel looking over and seeing the Slade rooms?
Well I’ve never been in, I’ve heard about it obviously, people have told there’s a venue here called the Slade Rooms, but I’ve yet to go in and have a look to see what’s it’s like, I mean it’s nice to have your name above the door!
We should all really applaud Willard and Noddy for their respective talents and how they haven’t forgot their roots. Get yourself over to the Light House and see mini Noddy at Willard Wigan’s exhibition which runs until May 2nd and the 100 masters website is here.
Words: Doug Wootton