Review of The Art of the Brick Exhibition in Manchester
The Art of the Brick Exhibition has been touring worldwide for the last 5 years. It has finally arrived in Manchester,so we popped along to see what all the fuss was about.
When I originally spotted that a LEGO exhibition was coming to Manchester, my first thought was that the kids would be in their element. But as I found out more about it, featuring LEGO sculptures based on famous paintings such as the Mona Lisa and The Kiss, I couldn’t help wondering whether it would instead be a strictly grown up affair. So when we were invited along to the opening, I was excited to go along with my three children to see what they thought about it all. My eldest (11 years old) was interested to see what was on offer, whereas my ten and six year old were less sure of what to expect.
What is The Art of the Brick?
The Art of the Brick is an art exhibition, featuring more than 75 pieces of art, using more than a million standard LEGO bricks. So who is it that has decided to create masterpieces out of a childhood toy? A previous NYC corporate lawyer, Nathan Sawaya is the first artist to turn LEGO into an artform, merging Pop Art and Surrealism to create ground-breaking contemporary art. His work has received much praise and recognition, with CNN rating the Art of the Brick as one of the world’s “Must See Exhibitions.” Since beginning to work with LEGO in 2002, he has since gone on to found The Art Revolution Foundation, with the belief that “art is not optional.” The foundation aims to make art a priority in America’s schools, which he argues will make people smarter, healthier and happier.
What to Expect From the Art of The Brick Exhibition
The exhibition opened in Manchester’s Great Northern Warehouse on 22nd November 2019. As we entered, we were greeted with a few small sculptures, of common items such as an apple and the planet Earth. Although I could appreciate the the difficulty in creating these, I could see that the kids were a little underwhelmed and I began to fear it wouldn’t keep their attention. I needn’t have worried. As we went on through the exhibition, the sculptures became more and more impressive, and the kids ran from sculture to sculpture, marvelling at the many figures that had been replicated.
Next to each picture was some information, which included a picture of the item that was being replicated; a great way of teaching the kids about some famous art, as well as inspiring them to create their best LEGO piece of art afterwards.
There are all kinds of sculptures; from copies of paintings and sculptures, to more abstract figures and items. It seems that pretty much anything can, and has been created out of these childhood bricks. By far the most popular sculpture (at least from the kids point of view) was a giant skeleton of a T-Rex.
At the end of the exhibition, there are LEGO bricks of all shapes and sizes to play with…much to the kids’ delight. The kids spent absolutely ages playing with the larger foam bricks, making stairs and houses. When I urged them it was time to go, they turned to the smaller bricks; they literally did not want to leave. My only gripe (and for some this might be a plus), is that there were several screens where the kids could play games like LEGO Ninjago. I find that it’s almost impossible to get my 11 year old away from his X-Box or mobile phone – and so I thought it was a shame that they had them there. It was no suprise that whilst the girls created, he was playing computer games. When I finally dragged him off the screen, he really enjoyed playing with the LEGO though.
Our Verdict on The Art of the Brick Exhibition
So who is this exhibition for? I’d argue absolutely everybody. This is a great way to bring art to the masses, and I think everyone will take away something from their visit. I enjoyed the chance to experience an artform I haven’t seen before, and although I know the kids enjoyed seeing the scupltures, it was the LEGO at the end that really made their day.
What The Art of the Brick really achieves is that it gives children the chance to experience and enjoy art. But it also gives grown ups the chance to be kids again. Yes, you will enjoy the art, but the grown ups were just as happy to play with the LEGO at the end. The Art of the Brick brings kids and grown ups together by successfully merging art and play. So if you’re thinking of visiting, I would say you won’t regret it; it makes for a great family outing for kids and adults of all ages.
The Art of the Brick is on at Manchester’s Great Northern Warehouse from now until 20th April 2020. For more details, see here