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Art of the Brick

Are you prepared for a trip down memory lane? Well, there's an alternative exhibition in town. The medium? Thousands upon thousands of little Lego bricks. I've never seen Alex so excited to see an art show - except for the Sherlock exhibition (but more on that another day!) Nathan Sawaya, a big-shot American lawyer, hung up his legal wig in order to pursue his love for the little bricks, and this exhibition showcases all the sculptures he's made from Lego since. Including the beauty above. When I saw this incredible T-Rex piece on Lisa's blog, I knew I had to go and see it. You all know what a palaeontologist wannabe dino fan I am by now. Here's my personal highlights from the show!

In the first few rooms are Sawaya's Lego-fied replicas of the Old Masters - pieces that everyone knows by sight, and that I as an art historian must know by name (or risk humiliation)! Sawaya pays homage to van Gogh's Starry Night, Leonardo's Mona Lisa, Michelangelo's sculpture of David, Rodin's Thinker and more. Alex and I were particularly drawn to his version of Munch's The Scream, having seen one of the originals at the Nationalmuseet when we visited Oslo in January (before I started this blog!)

On a sidenote: I love the Nationalmuseet. It was almost empty when we visited, but the work inside was fantastical and mainly unknown to me. A real gem.

The serene blue light in this room lent it a hushed, underwater atmosphere. 

What I imagine when yoga instructors tell me that I'm holding a heart-opening pose.

Lots of ways to read this one. Do the hands represent the manacles of society? Are they guiding the man's every move? Or are they trying to pull him back from the edge?

And the star piece of the exhibition, given an appropriately Jurassic Park mood with jungle sound effects piped over the loudspeakers. Let's face it, it was always going to steal the show for me! Apparently Sawaya spent a whole summer labouring over this one. Lego and dinosaur skeletons - a match made in geek heaven.

At the end of the exhibition, there's a buzzing room full of visitors making their own Lego creations. I was never a Lego aficionado back in the day, but Alex, number one Lego fan, whizzed around the room looking for bits and pieces to complete his rocket thingy. Space missile. Whatever. (I'm not jealous at all...)

So. I'm not sure I would deem some of Sawaya's work 'art' exactly - not in the fine art sense, anyway. I think the curators are aware of this from the fact that they encourage the photo-taking and sharing on social media, as usually photography is banned at exhibitions (and often for good reason, too.) If you're in London and looking for a serious art show to see, I'd recommend going to see Late Turner at the Tate Britain (preferably after seeing the Mike Leigh film!) That's got bags of emotion, colour and raw talent - and the tickets are about the same price as this. But everyone's idea of what constitutes art is different, and although Art of the Brick wasn't completely my cup of tea, it might be yours. With a lighthearted vibe reminiscent of a theme-park (Legoland) at times, it's definitely one to take the kids to. Or, alternatively, your Lego-loving significant other...

The exhibition will be running at the Old Truman Brewery off Brick Lane until January 2015, and you can buy your tickets here

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