WHAT IT FEELS LIKE TO ...

The Herald Magazine - - CONTENTS - SU­SAN SWAR­BRICK

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

PHO­TO­GRAPH: COLIN MEARNS

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