For a grown woman, I get inordinately excited by Lego. Witness me lining up whilst 8 months pregnant to get into Brickvention, Australia’s premier Lego fan convention.
So as quickly as you can say ‘Lego Technic’ I hit the purchase button for tickets to The Art of the Brick, an exhibition of large-scale Lego sculptures by Lego artist Nathan Sawaya. His work is being shown in Australia for the first time atFederation Square.
As a lawyer myself, I love that Nathan used be a New York attorney and now works with Lego for a living. What an inspiring career trajectory!
As ticket entries are timed and there are only a limited number sold for the morning or afternoon session, the gallery space is pretty quiet and uncrowded. It’s the best way to appreciate the scale, beauty and craft of Sawaya’s work. Not only is it awesome seeing large objects built with tiny bricks (make sure you watch the time lapse video of Sawaya building a full sized human form), Sawaya’s ability to create organic and fluid shapes with something made of corners and right angles, plus give humanity to little pieces of plastic, is quite stunning.
My two favourite pieces spanned both categories – the imposing dinosaur skeleton which could be at home in any natural history museum and the extremely lifelike blue man in a chair. Just because his works are made with toys doesn’t make them any artistic or inspiring – Lego merely replaces clay or marble or steel as a creative material.
While Nathan is American, the exhibition does have a local flavour. The Melbourne Lego users group have built Iconic Melbourne, which features landmark Melbourne buildings such as the Queen Victoria Market and Eureka Tower.
As you leave on the ground floor, make sure you visit the Lego shop and place your “brick in the wall” to help build a mosaic featuring a famous Melbourne icon (it’s pretty easy to guess what it might be by now). Measuring 4.5 meters wide by 2.2 meters high, the mosaic will be made up of 168,000 Lego bricks and weigh 350kg.
To cap off a fabulous visit we scored the last of only 100 Sort and Store Lego heads (the gallery store is the only stockist in Australia). Basically it’s a plastic carry case which stores 1000 Lego pieces and contains an interior sieve so you can gently shake the head and separate the big pieces from the small pieces. It has a carry handle so that you can BYO Lego to play dates! Really RM and I are just suckers for Lego paraphernalia.
The Art of the Brick is only on for a limited time from 2 June to 2 August and tickets are expected to sell out. Get in quick!