The Art of the Brick

Things to do
3 out of 5 stars
(23user reviews)
 (© Chadi Abou Sariya)
© Chadi Abou Sariya
 (© Chadi Abou Sariya)
© Chadi Abou Sariya
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© Chadi Abou Sariya
 (Chadi Abou Sariya)
Chadi Abou Sariya
 (© Chadi Abou Sariya)
© Chadi Abou Sariya
 (© Chadi Abou Sariya)
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© Chadi Abou Sariya
 (© Chadi Abou Sariya)
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© Chadi Abou Sariya
 (© Chadi Abou Sariya)
© Chadi Abou Sariya

It's quite likely that you spent hours playing with Lego as a child. It's also possible that you are about to wish you'd kept going. Former corporate lawyer turned master of tiny bricks, Nathan Sawaya never stopped. His touring show 'The Art of the Brick' has visited Asia, America and Australia and is now making its way to Brick Lane (where else?) for its UK debut at the Old Truman Brewery. Collectively the artworks, which are all made of Lego, took a painstaking 4,188 hours to build. Sawaya's colourful large-scale sculptures include recreations of famous artworks such as Da Vinci's Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo as well as many original pieces including a six-metre long T-Rex skeleton constructed from over 80,000 bricks. It would be a bit cruel to expect children (and most adults) to explore without the promise of getting hands-on at some point so, after gathering inspiration from Sawaya's creations, visitors can head to the Interactive Zone to build their own mini masterpieces. Tickets are now available and can be bought online or by telephone.


Average User Rating

3 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:2
  • 4 star:9
  • 3 star:4
  • 2 star:2
  • 1 star:6
1 person listening
1 of 1 found helpful

I was lucky to win tickets to see this with a friend.  I was really looking forward to it, but to be honest, as they encourage photos being taken - I think I'd already seen half the exhibition online!

There were a few pieces that were very clever, and well worth seeing, but there was also what felt like quite a lot of repetition - I somehow felt like MORE could have been done (although I'm not sure what!)

If I had paid full whack, I would have been extremely disappointed - as it was, it was a pleasant way to spend an hour, seeing a few very clever pieces.

1 of 1 found helpful

I think the title of the show is a bit misleading. I wouldn't go as far as to say it's art, as there is no thought behind it, just some very obvious social comments. The show is a bit repetitive (the same pose over and over again) and the man's ego is the size of The Shard, at least. Glad I had free tickets as I would have felt cheated to pay full price. Do not go in there expecting something amazing, go with low expectations and you might enjoy it.

2 of 3 found helpful

If I could give this exhibition zero out of ten, I would.

After paying close to £26 for two tickets (which at the beginning of the exhibition, I didn't begrudge in the slightest), you are led into a room to watch a video in which the creator of the exhibition, Nathan Sawaya, tells you how he came up with the notion of... Well... Making things with LEGO.

'What?!' I hear you say, 'You can build things with LEGO?'

Yes - yes you can. You are then ushered through into what can only be described as a mediocre LEGOland Windsor, only with more clunking symbolism than you can wave a large stick at. One of the pieces is a man being held back by five or six LEGO hands coming out of the wall. This was meant to symbolise how Nathan Sawaya was held back from fulfilling his dream. YOU DON'T SAY. Next thing you're going to do is show me a LEGO model of a man struggling to get out of another man in a suit, which represents escaping from your hum-drum office existence. Oh, you are? That's great.

Nathan Sawaya, who has an ego the size of a small jumbo jet, is the star of a second film in which he explains his creative process, and which prominently stars his business manager (who is probably responsible for all of the awful branded merchandise you are led through as you run, grasping for the exit). I'm not normally a cynic (really, I'm not), but this part of it didn't sit well with me. Your business manager is involved in the creative process? Wow.

He really does save the best for last though. Entering the 'British' room was like stepping into a cr*p souvenir shop on Tottenham Court Road. Apparently, Sawaya sees British culture as little more than a red telephone box, a 'Keep Calm' poster, and models of The Beatles, and One Direction. I felt like I was standing in Ripley's Believe it or Not. It was that bad.

Two telling things about this exhibition:

1. You come out of it knowing Nathan Sawaya's name. Mainly because his stylised signature is everywhere. Literally. On every display.

2. LEGO have not sponsored or endorsed it in any way - which is telling, as they often trawl the internet for artists using LEGO as a medium, and ask them to provide models for their theme parks.

I came blinking out of the hot, dark, stuffy exhibition feeling cheated - like I had been flipped for a few bucks by a travelling carnival act who promised me a real-life mermaid, but instead just gave me a catalogue model in a scaly leotard.

Do not go, do not waste your money, do not fund this man's ego.

All you will learn from this exhibition is that Nathan Sawaya can build stuff with LEGO. Like every other industrious child in the developed world. The only difference is that an eight year old kid displays more humility than our friend Nathan.

Seriously. Save your money.


A lovely exhibition, but quite overpriced considering most of the pieces have been snapped and displayed online. Lots of talent and time has gone into this exhibition, if you've got cash to spare, it's a good one to go and pass some time in.

I'm so glad I didn't read these reviews before buying tickets cos I wouldn't have... But me and my 13 year old spent an hour walking round and my son spent another hour building a camel !!! (That was his own idea)! I'm not a huge Lego fan but I enjoy seeing concept art. My son is/was a huge Lego fan growing up. So I thought this would be good for both of us!

We actually really enjoyed it. I especially liked the mosaic art peices!

Surprised by all the negative reviews here. I agree that the exaggerated "can-do" attitude and overbearing positivity emanating from the videos and the quotes was a little annoying, but it certainly didn't ruin my enjoyment of some really nice and original Lego creations. I spent an hour and was honestly impressed at how square bricks could render human features and expressions so well, and I came out of the exhibition wishing I had time and money to spend on building huge Lego creations. But I do understand that the price for a family of four may be considered excessive.

Neither art or Legoland. So what is the point? I had more fun in the play area at the end of the exhibition. I really wanted to love this but came away feeling well and truly fleeced. If you have a family and are thinking of going please, please, please spend £47 on some Lego and have some proper family fun. The artist would agree with me even if his Business Manager doesn't. 

Overpriced and uninspired….don't bother!

My 13y old son and I were hugely disappointed and rather nauseated by the corporate feel, perhaps not surprising given the business leader ("artist") had been a corporate lawyer until finding a niche in the market to make more money. There was very little evident creativity but plenty copies of famous works, not dissimilar to "sunday painters". There was an overrepresentation of children with an interest in lego, accompanied by parents on half term outings, with excitement climaxing on reaching the shop where their parents could fork out more cash for overpriced gifts. We went round the exhibition in under 30 minutes costing us nearly £1 per minute. It really doesn't deserve any stars but unable to post review without it.

Firstly, notice that this is in the 'things to do' section rather than the 'art' section, if you have children and can afford the entrance fee then it is worth a visit. However, if you are anticipating an art show then be prepared for cheesy American commercialism rather than anything deeper.

Thanks to a Time Out Card competition, we (my partner and I) won tickets to the ‘Art of Brick’, we therefore feel we should apologise to Time Out for the following review:-

This undoubtedly the most unashamedly contrived display of “sculpture” we have come across. There is no doubt Nathan Sawaya is a skilled Lego modeller, but to call this art is rather a stretch.  His work lacks abstraction, high concept and new ideas or ambition. Like all young Lego enthusiasts - he's asking himself 'I wonder if such and such can be made with Lego?' Luckily he has the time and resource to produce consistent models (and you’d hope too, this is his career!). 

I didn’t think I was much of a cynic but this exhibition brought the worst out in me.  The British theme models were a little patronising – my advice to Sawaya would be to pick up a copy of ‘Time Out London’ for research purposes!

Sawaya tries hard to convince us his models are more than mere models.  Had he not have used Lego solely as a medium, this would not have achieved the level that warrants a successful exhibition. How he's put this on around the world is testament to his skill as a businessman and promoter .

Add a few rides to this and it’ll be a theme park!

If you are to take a gamble and decide to see the exhibition, make a bit of a game of it – try and guess what the models depict before reading the labels…it’ll make your experience much more enjoyable.

Had an enjoyable evening with my daughter at the Time Out "Art of the Brick" preview.  Liked the interpretations of famous art pieces such as The Thinker, The Kiss, The Scream.  The swimming figure was very clever.  It was funny seen grown ups running around making models out of Lego at the end - one man cried out with joy - "I have found a set of wheels!"  Thank you Time Out for another great event!

To be honest this exhibition did not have the wow factor for me, but on the other hand it wasn't as bad as others comments here make it out to be.  Me and my friend enjoyed ourselves but to be honest for the price of the ticket one would expect to see more.  Thankfully, I had a pair of free tickets. Also, there appear to be two entrances so as my and my friend arrived separately, we had trouble finding each other.  As I went straight after work with my rucksack due to the lack of a cloakroom I was forced to carry it with me and not on my back as it was not allowed, so that was also rather tiring and spoiled the experience a little. If you are interested in seeing something different to the usual art exhibitions then I would recommend it for you. 

My kids (aged 10 & 14) absolutely loved this exhibition, as did my husband and I.  The sculptures were very impressive and the dim lit sections really made the exhibits stand out.

However, we did think that £47 for an exhibition that lasts around an hour was a pretty pricey visit.


I attended the preview on Tuesday night. We were certainly the first through the door - the whole place still smelled of wet paint and the staff looked a bit shell-shocked as hundreds of us descended all at once. Meeting the artist was cool - and so was seeing his work. Puts my lego skills to shame ! Like many I took lots of pictures and on sharing them friends have said how great they look. I feel we probably saw some rather than all of the collection. I would like to have seen more. Not sure if its "art" or fun, but I am glad I went - and being first through the door brings its own bragging rights.  

0 of 1 found helpful

I have always been a Lego fan, and this was great, the end bit especially - i'm not telling what it was you have to visit to see for yourself! Some really cool pieces, and intrigued as to how some of them were made. Definitely inspired me to try making some different things :) 


0 of 1 found helpful

awesome! if LEGO has ever been part of your life...definitely go! Nathan's ideas of what he has created out of the LEGO bricks are brilliant.