WHAT IT FEELS LIKE TO ...
GROWING up I was given a big bag of Lego bricks that I think came from a neighbour whose kids had grown out of playing with it. I would make everything: cars, planes and houses. I got a Lego police boat set for my birthday when I was six or seven and thought that was the coolest thing ever.
It wasn’t until I was 38 and had kids of my own that I revisited it. I saw the Lego Brick City exhibition in Paisley a few years ago. There were big models of the Arc de Triomphe and St Pancras. I thought it was impressive, but wondered why there was no Glasgow buildings. I set myself the challenge to make the Barrowland ballroom out of Lego.
The completed piece is 3ft long, has roughly 2,500 pieces and took almost a year from start to finish, although that wasn’t full time, rather snippets of evenings and weekends. It is mainly a hobby; I work as an economic development consultant.
The next one I made was Rogano, a building and restaurant I’ve always liked. I thought it would be fun to bring the lobster on the sign to life using Lego. Other landmarks I’ve made include the Duke of Wellington statue with the cone on his head, the Glasgow Film Theatre and part of the frontage of the Gallery of Modern Art.
I don’t do architectural models or replicas. My approach is to make it quirky rather than a straight copy. You will never get the exact scale, texture and colours. It is more about capturing the vibe of a building.
The Willow Tea Rooms has a curved ironwork feature and I thought: “How the hell will I make that from Lego?” I was rummaging through a box, found a wheel arch from a Lego car and used that piece upside down.
That is my only Mackintosh building so far and I would love to do the frontage of the Glasgow School of Art. It would be tricky, but I enjoy the problem-solving aspect. You don’t always start with a plan; sometimes you work it out as you go along.
The most popular of my pieces is the Duke of Wellington. I’ve sold a few because they’re small enough for people to put on their walls. In terms of feedback, though, the Barrowland ballroom is the one people tend to be most gobsmacked by.
Someone asked me to do the cloisters at Glasgow University and that’s what I’m working on at the moment. There is a long list I would like to try including the Beresford
building on Sauchiehall Street and the Glasgow University tower.
The problem with Glasgow buildings is the red sandstone is difficult to recreate because there is not a Lego colour for that – although you can do blonde sandstone quite easily with the tan-coloured pieces.
What I find most enjoyable about Lego is the possibilities. You open the box and think: “What will I make today?” I only know one person who doesn’t like Lego, but he is a bit of a misanthrope.
Follow Denis on Twitter @BrickingGlasgow