BUILD IT... AND T
An aquarium, a cathedral, a dinosaur attack and even Superman’s home – how a Kildare woman creates amazing displays using one of the world’s most popular toys
SHE’S Ireland’s Lego Lady. Jessica Farrell, 48, from Rathangan, Co Kildare, recently made it to the semifinals of Channel 4 show Lego Masters, along with the youngest of her four children, Faolan, 14.
While the winners of the series were revealed on Thursday night to be Steve Guinness and Nate Dias, Jessica and Faolan made quite an impression on the judges, which included Daire O Briain.
Some of the challenges on the popular series included building a large chair, a child’s hobby horse, funfair amusements and a cake stand laden with delicacies.
‘It was the experience of a lifetime,’ Jessica admits this week. ‘Usually Faolan and I work separately and are squabbling over who gets more space on the table. So working together was a challenge.’
Off-screen, Jessica’s prolific work is equally if not even more impressive, showing considerable imaginative flair and the minutest attention to detail. Her varied creations span everything from an exact replica of London’s salubrious Her Majesty’s Theatre to a townwrecking plant monster.
She is the only Irish person whose creations have been chosen for display in the revamped Lego House in Denmark, where the interlocking plastic toy was first invented.
‘It is a tremendous honour. The Lego House is a new building that’s having its grand opening later this month. I was very fortunate to be one of the very few Lego fans asked to exhibit there. I’m definitely the only resident of Ireland who has been asked to exhibit there,’ she confirms this week. ‘I built a series of interiors called Random Rooms — a bedroom, kitchen, dining room, all done to high detail. I have another piece in there which is a study of brick-built flowers, so that draws on my two areas of interest.’
Jessica is a keen gardener and runs a small nursery in Rathangan village when she is not locked in her Lego room poring over her latest creation. She grew up in a family of artists, including a mother and grandmother who were both exceptional painters.
‘I am not good enough in fine art to express beauty, detail, shape, form, colour. Instead Lego is my medium,’ she explains, and her mother bought Jessica her first basic Lego set when she was just four years old.
‘I still have it in its original box! She got it for me to see what I could do, to challenge my creativity.’
Jessica loved building Lego in childhood, but gave it up as she got older. ‘Most adult builders have what we call a dark age, where we turn away from light of Lego and get involved in things like work and family rearing, which pushes Lego to the background. Then something happens to rekindle the spark. I started to get extremely jealous of my children’s Christmas presents. My husband Michael said, “Why don’t you just get one?” Then I started to build at home quietly without anyone knowing about it. Until one day a family friend walked in and saw it and said, “You really should be doing something with this”.
‘I joined Brick.ie, the Irish association for adult fans of Lego. It’s full of really great people, there’s a wonderful sense of camaraderie.’ Builders in the group share ideas, discuss projects and display their models together. ‘Joining Brick.ie opened up a whole new world for me. My life is unrecognisable now compared to what it was before,’ says Jessica. ‘Now I hope to keep building until they nail shut my Lego-built coffin!’
‘THIS was the first model I built that was exhibited — at Titanic Belfast in 2015. It came about after a challenge by my eldest daughter, who is a gamer. First I had to play the game, which was part of her challenge. Then she talked to her gaming friends so we could choose the most iconic level to build from Lego. They all agreed on this particular level. She got a whole bunch of screenshots from it and I worked from the screenshots to recreate a model to look exactly like it so that a gamer would recognise every single feature. It took me four months.’ TOMB RAIDER
‘THIS was commissioned by an Irish travel agency Follow The Camino to promote their pilgrimages on the route of St James in Spain. It was displayed in the Holiday World Show in the RDS Dublin in January.’ THE CATHEDRAL OF SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA