When we lived in Chicago, we made a couple of visits to the Lego convention, Brickworld. Some of the Lego creations on display were really impressive and I have included them in previous blog posts. It just so happened that, this year, Brickworld was on the same weekend that we were in the Chicago area for my niece’s graduation. We had a little spare time on the morning that we were flying home so we decided to check it out en route to the airport.
The venue has changed from when we last went. It is now at a larger location and everything is in one large room. The previous place had four smaller rooms. This seemed to result in the more advanced pieces being grouped together. Now everything is scattered around the one space. Combined with the many retail stands, it made things a bit more tricky to see in a short space of time. Even so, we managed to cover everything enough to feel like we hadn’t missed out on anything. I even managed to FaceTime my sister in the UK so she could see some of the stuff from a long distance!
As with previous years, there were plenty of impressive creations. A section of downtown Chicago from the area we used to live was very cool. A recreation of a baseball stadium seemed to be incredibly detailed but it was quite hard to see since it was enclosed in a case. A guy had produced a detailed representation of a building from his home town in Europe. A Middle Ages scene from previous years had received some updates. My favorite, though was a scene from D-Day.
The scene consisted of a landing craft with soldiers and vehicles coming ashore on a Normandy beach having taken the area in battle. The level of detail was impressive with the water created from thousands of little pieces. I have no idea how many total pieces were included but it was clearly a lot. It must have cost a small fortune to put together combined with a lot of time and effort. A very impressive effort.
Nathan Sawaya may not be an artist you have heard of before but you may have seen at least some of his work. Nathan is an artist who works in Lego. He manages to combine the artistic vision of the piece he is trying to create with the technical skill in creating structures using standard Lego pieces – no simple feat given that most shapes have gentle curves to them and Lego is mainly straight edges.
An exhibition of some of Nathan’s work was on recently in Walnut Creek and we headed along to see what was on display. There were two types of exhibit. Some were straightforward Lego creations on display on their own. The rest were a combination of Lego and photography. Nathan had created some elements in Lego that were then combined with photography to incorporate the Lego sculpture in the main photo. For example, one of the pieces was a bare tree that then appeared in a landscape shot. Another was some railroad tracks that became the foreground to a train station.
The sculptures varied a lot in themes. Some were relatively light hearted such as a dog or some clouds. A woman’s red dress blowing in the wind with parts of it blowing behind (but with no-one actually in the dress) was a particularly interesting piece. Others were far darker in their inspiration with themes of escape and repression in the corporate world included. These pieces were often the more interesting ones to see as they had more to interpret versus the more light hearted but literal items.
The audience for the exhibit was quite varied. Many people had brought their kids along based on their interest in playing with Lego at home. I suspect they were not quite so enthused with the more sinister works. The other visitors were decidedly more adult. Whether they are just fans of Lego or interested in the messages the artist was conveying, I shall never know.
Once a year a Lego convention is held in the Chicago area. It used to be up in Wheeling and I have blogged about it here. This year they moved to a new venue in Schaumburg. We went along again. Some of the creations that people put together for this event are quite stunning. Their creativity and ingenuity are very impressive. Not all of the stuff suits me but I am cognizant of the skill, even for those that I won’t spend much time checking out.
I am not a Lego builder but my family has a few enthusiasts. I hope they enjoy a far larger gallery than usual.