LEGO forms some of my earliest childhood memories. I can vaguely remember spending one Christmas at my cousins house where I received a great, huge LEGO castle as a present from my parents. Needless to say I had that castle set built before dinner, following the instruction manual step by step until the draw-bridge was in place and my new castle completed. I’m pretty sure I have the base of that castle, stored away in my parents loft somewhere along with hundreds of other multi-coloured bricks in all shapes and sizes, just waiting for a time as to when my sister or I have children, and they can form amazing memories of their own in building whatever their hearts desire.
LEGO is timeless like that, whilst nowadays sets are themed – i.e. Star Wars or Marvel, but that doesn’t mean that the bricks from my childhood are useless, they can still form part of an impressive Police station or Helicopter. That said, I did not so long ago build a LEGO Batwing, at the age of 30. So i’m not beyond enjoying the modern themed sets.
… OK, enough with the childhood memories already, and onto the exhibit in question.
The Art of the Brick by Nathan Sawaya
The Art of the Brick Exhibit, currently on show at London’s Truman Gallery, is the work of a Mr Nathan Sawaya. Sawaya currently lives out every manchilds dream – building LEGO for a living – but that wasnt always his path. As you will learn whilst exploring the 80 piece strong exhibit, the NYC based artist was actually a lawyer for a fair time. Whilst he always had a passion for art, throughout college and as a creative outlet whilst working in law (a bit like my blog is my creative release whilst working in finance!?), it wasn’t until 2004 and at the age of 31 that Sawaya took what was a hobby and made it his livelihood.
He is now a full time LEGO artist, making pieces to order as shown in another of the videos projected throughout the exhibit. In the same video you catch a glimpse of his studio which, is said to house over 2.5 million LEGO bricks. And with those bricks, he has created these …
Yes thats me being a manchild again and playing with yet more LEGO. I decided on building the bunkbeds from my blog logo from the vast selection of LEGO bricks open for all visitors to play with at the very end of the exhibit. I think my effort wasn’t too bad to be honest, and even more surpising was my actually managing to smile like a normal person in the photograph. A rarity nowadays.
I personally found the entire exhibit brilliant, but then I am a big geek like that. I’v read plenty of online reviews since my visit stating that the exhibit is boring and lacking in any real art. Each to their own I guess, personally I had a great time, but I should say that my tickets were a surprise gift from the girlfriend, so made it a tad more special.
A lesson in LEGO
The LEGO group formed 1932 by Ole Kirk Kristiansen, but it was until 1958 that the bricks we all know and love today (twice named to of the century) where launched into the world. What were LEGO doing between 1932 and 1958? Well they were busy making other wooden and plastic toys, clothes hangers, tiddlywinks, board-games and plastic balls. A bit of a mixed bag really.
The plastic, interlocking bricks were a game changer for the LEGO company though. A company that in 2012 produced some 45.7 billion LEGO bricks (at a rate of 5.2 million per hour), and also now officially named the worlds largest tyre manufacturer, producing an incredible 318 million LEGO tyres a year. That’s over 870,000 a day.
So LEGO is a pretty big deal right now. So big that it is estimated that on average, every person on this planet owns 86 LEGO bricks.
For more on the history of LEGO, please click here for the official timeline