Monday, 12 February 2018

Lego Classicist

Lego Classicist Logo
Lego Classicist is social media page which is dedicated to recreating classicists in Lego. Started up by Liam D. Jensen (Independent Historical Archivist) takes a interesting approach to history and Lego. 

Although every thing has a interesting beginnings. Lego Classicist started  up by  completely accident. During Liam's holiday break from work, he happened to be look online for Lego and stumbled across a number of figure parts that reminded him of Associate Professor Tom Hillard, an academic and an old family friend. He purchased the parts, thinking it would make a great gift.

The first Lego Classicist,
A/Prof. Tom Hillard.

Liam uploaded a photo of the figure on his personal Facebook account. The post became popular and found it's way across Australia.

After making more Lego figures for other academics, the hobby jumped started Lego Classicists.

The Lego Classicist family grow and now includes former Lego Senior Curator at Nicholson Museum Michael Turner (responsible for three Lego models displayed at the Nicholson Museum), Lego Prof. Wallace-Hadrill (Roman historian, archaeologist and TV presenter), Lego Dr. Kara Cooney (world renowned Egyptologist and presenter), Lego Sir Charles Nicholson (founder of the Nicholson Museum, University of Sydney) and Lego Prof. Christopher Smith (Director of the British School at Rome). 

Former Lego Senior
Curator at
Nicholson Museum,
Michael Turner
"The goal of these Lego Classicists figures is more metaphorical art than literally correct visual truth... so then the real challenge is not to make them 'look' like the person, but how to make them 'feel' like the person"
- L.D. Jensen

Every Lego figure made by Lego Classicistic are gifted to the people they portray and are never produced for commercial profit because every single figure to be unique and special to the person who are honoured in Lego Classicists. 

To qualify as an Lego Classicists, you need to come under the three categorise: 

Lego Sir Charles Nicholson
founder of the
Nicholson Museum
Lego Classicist
Anyone who deals with any other serious study of the ancient world of any other civilization across the world, such as Egyptology.

These include academic, scholar, archivist, librarian or historian who works in the study of classics (the ancient worlds of Greece & Rome, traditional classics) can become a Lego Classicist.

Honorary Lego Classicist
Anyone who works in the discipline of history, including modern history, who is promoting the greater use of the recording and use of history.

Anyone, including people outside the discipline of ancient & modern history, who has shown great interest in, or provided a significant new perspective to, the study or understanding of ancient history.

Me in Lego
by Lego Classicist
Honourable Mention Lego Classicist
Anyone who has had a connection to the work of ancient world study and engagement, even when their work is seemingly unconnected, but without whose help it would not be possible.

Lego Classicist reminds me a lot of myself, with my Lego historic people posts and photographs. I completely respect Liam for providing Lego figures for free in honour of those in the cultural sector.

Find out more:

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Lego Architecture - The Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower is the most iconic structure in Paris, France. Named after the engineer, Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed and built the tower. 

In 1889 was the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution and Paris hosted a World's Fair to mark the occasion. Three years before, there was a competition to get a centrepiece for the exhibition. Gustave's plan for 985-foot tower won.   

The tower was a success with the public. By the end of the 1889 World's Fair, there had been nearly two million visitors. However, Eiffel only had a permit for twenty years; it was due to be dismantled in 1909, as the ownership reverted back to the city. The city was going to take it down, but Eiffel argued that the structure was valuable to communication and scientific purposes. '...not only the art of the modern engineer, but also the century of industry and science in which we are living' - Gustave Eiffel. After the short campaign, it was allowed to remain. 

Gustave Eiffel 
Eiffel installed a meteorology lab on the third floor and later constructed a wind tunnel at the foot of the tower. He carried out thousands of tests there and saw many others uses the tower to study meteorology, astronomy and physics.

The tower was home to the original wireless telegraphy which secured it's future. The top of the tower has been modified to a growing number of antennas. Now its now home to over 120 antennas plus a television mast making the tower 1,063 feet taller. 

Today the Eiffel Tower remains one of the most recognizable structures in the world, seeing estimated seven million people through the doors each year. 

The building of the Eiffel Tower

Saturday, 30 September 2017

The Art of the Brick - A Life in LEGO by Nathan Sawaya - Book Review.

The Art of the Brick -
A life of Lego by Nathan Sawaya
Now I do have to admit the biggest sin of them all, I missed my chance to go and see the amazing The Art of the Brick exhibit when it was in London. I regret not going. After seeing on-line images and reading this book by the artist Nathan Sawaya, just makes me feel worst about it. With a growing interest and artist fascination with the simple brick; the art world has grown bigger and bigger with more artist coming out of the wood work.

Now in my opinion Nathan is the best Lego Sculpture artist I have ever seen. Using only a simple brick to create these beautiful sculptures. From up close the sculpture is blocky and pixilated but from a far the piece seems smooth and realistic. Allowing the artwork to change perspective of the item from different distances.

Nathan creates a miscellaneous types of sculptures. Some a recreations of day-to-day items (for example, apples a dog), artworks (for example, The Kiss by Gustav Klimt) and a number of unusual modern art human sculptures (for example, Yellow). Some of these sculptures are actually featured in the book.

Looking at the book itself, is a high quality book. The book is full of amazing images of each sculpture which is described on every page. The great thing about this book, is how its written by the artist himself; rather than a critic who describes what he thinks of each art work depicted. Doing the book this way allows the reader to get a glimpse in the world of the artist and the inspiration behind each piece. Giving you, the reader, a personal perspective and the true idea behind the art, rather a false interpretation of someone else.

MOC inspired by
Nathan Sawaya
Okay you might be saying 'why don't you like art critics opinions?' That's not what I am trying to say, they all have valid opinions and art is there to be interpreted. Each view of a piece of art will be in fact different and comes from how the viewer feels about the art work in question. Art is there to be bring out those emotions and ideas. Although it can be far more interesting to learn the inspiration of the artist and their intention of the piece itself. For example, one may look at Yellow a say, it about a broken heart. The gapping whole of what was once there when they were loved. Which is completely valid; although Nathan, the artist, will say its a person opening their true self to the world without fear and how this has shown in his own life experiences. So the explanation by the artist can be more valuable than others as it gives you more of an insight.

Well then would I suggest to you to get this book? Yes, would be the simple answer. If you are a fun of Lego and/or art then don't hesitate to get this book. This book is valuable as it give you a insight into the world of the artist, Nathan Sawaya and his fantastic pieces of art he loves to create. Getting this book will be the most fascinating thing you will do today.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

The Lego Architect Book Review.

The Lego Architect
by Tom Alphin
Ever since the creation of the plastic brick in 1949, building creation and recreations out of the interlocking brick system has fascinated fans for generation. So it's not surprising it has branched out to architecture. Seeing many beautiful creations of buildings using many interesting techniques of Lego building to recreate these iconic sites. With this interest saw the introduction of the product series by Lego with Lego Architecture in 2008 and onwards.

This book by Tom Alphin, takes a look at the many different types and techniques of architecture and Lego creations. In each is a reasonable length of description on the history and definition of the type of architecture which is used. The interesting aspect of the book is the inclusion of building tips to help with creating your own model. I have never personally seen this in any Lego book before and I do wish to see more of it in more variety of Lego subjects. 

The Prairie House model
After the definition a number of amazing Lego model recreations by other great Lego builders which relate to this type of architecture that's mentioned.

After this there is a section to build your own little model as Tom Alphin has designed some great small Lego instructions to follow. Unusually the models you can create only uses one colour, white. It is interesting why he may have used a single and plain colour; as he might have been referring to architect design models which are normally used by architects to show and display their designs before it is built. 
The uses of the white can also be very helpful on obtaining the parts you need to build the models as a great source of this would be the Lego Architecture Studio set. However, not all the parts you need are in the set. Although using the Studio is most likely the easiest option you will still need to get a few additional pieces especially if you wish to make all of the models in the book. If you wish to do this I would advise to get more than one Lego Architecture Studio set.

The Art Deco

Movie Theatre model
Overall the book is interesting and full of information and Lego ideas to think about. The book is a beautiful addition to your bookshelf and a interesting read to past the time with. If you like the Lego Architecture series, architecture or architectural history. Worth a buy. 

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Adolf Hitler - The Monster and Tyrant

On the 20th April 1889 Adolf Hitler was born in a small town in Austria, Braunau am Inn. His father, Alois was a customs official while his mother, Klara, came from a poor family. Alois was a overbearing man and Adolf frequently found himself the wrong side of his anger. Adolf left school with no qualifications at 16. 

Hitler always dreamed of a career as a artist. He applied to the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts but was rejected in October 1907. He then moved to Vienna after the death of his parents and spent his time there sleeping in hostels and painting postcards. Here he developed many of his views of anti-semitism and desired to unite Germany and Austria.

Hitler in Vienna selling postcards
as a failed artist.
In 1913, Hitler moved to Munich to avoid military service. He loved Germany and wanted to prove his loyalty. In August 1914 he was given that chance, Hitler enlisted in the German army to be party of the Great War. He served in both France and Belgium, where he was decorated twice for bravery. In 1916, Hitler was wounded at the Somme. Then in 1918, he was wounded a second time after a gas attack. While in Pasewalk, Germany surrendered. The Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicated days before armistice and many of the members of parliament were given poisoned chalice. 

Hitler and many others were angry by what they saw as a betrayal by the Jews and the socialists at home. In June 1919, the Treaty of Versailles was signed and Germany were forced to accept sole responsibility for the war. As well as this, Germany had to pay a large amount of reparations and huge chunks of their territories were divided among the victors. Again like most, Hitler hated the treaty. He then decided to go into politics by joining the Germany Workers's Party (later known as the Nazi Party). Hitler completely agreed with their Nationalist and anti-semetic beliefs.

Hitler doing one of his
many hateful speeches.
Using his oratory skills, Hitler raised through the ranks of the Nazi Party. In February 1921, he spoke before 6,000 people in Munich.

Anton Drexler, founder of the Nazi Party, became unsettled by Hitler's popularity. He formed an alliance with a socialist party while Hitler was in Berlin. Drexler's attempt to undermine Hitler failed as he resigned and rejoined only when he was given control of the party in July 1921.

In 1923, the German Government was at the edge of collapse. The economic situation of the country was worsening as inflation increased. By that year a loaf of bread raised from 250 marks to 200 billion.

Wishing to see Germany to be great again under his control, Hitler encouraged revolution. On the 8th November, Bavarian Prime Minister Gustav Kahr addressed a collection of businessmen at a beer hall in Munich. Hitler and a load of his SA soldiers stormed in and forced Kahr to pledge his support. The next day Hitler led 3,000 men into the streets. However the police were waiting for them. Violence followed which resulted in the deaths of 16 Nazis and 3 policemen. Afterwards Hitler was arrested and sentenced to 5 years in prison for treason.

Hitler in prison writing
his book, Mein Kampf.
Within the 9 months of imprisonment in Bavarian fortress of Landsbury am Leck, Hitler spent his time writing his book, Mein Kampf. Mein Kampf outlines Hitler's views of the superiority of a white Aryan race and his cruel perspective for the Jews. He also describes Germans prosperity under Nazi control, for example, military expansion, elimination of the "impure" races and dictatorial authoritarianism. It was published in July 1925.

After being released he hoped to be elected. However, in 1928 the Nazis only won just 2.6% of votes.

Although, after the American stock exchanged collapsed in October 1929 and the foreign loans on which Germany relied on were stopped and repayment was called in. Unemployment rose to 6 million and parties on both sides saw support increase dramatically. That same year Hitler met 17 year-old Eva Braun, a German Catholic girl.

Hitler led the Nazis to become the largest party, with over 37% of the popular vote in the elections of July 1932. President von Hindenburg was concerned about the Communist's growing support. This persuaded him to give Hitler the post of Chancellor in January 1933. By March he was given dictatorial powers from the Enabling Act. This allowed him to pass laws without the Reichstag. Other Political parties, organisations and unions who were associated with the Nazis were disbanded.

The Army leaders were concerned with the SA who has helped Hitler to power. SA was considered as a group of thugs and Hitler needed to separate himself from them. In June 1934 the leader of the SA, Ernist Rohn and hundreds were assassinated in one night. This was to become known as the The Night of the Long Knives. Hitler couldn't tolerate opposition to his plans to suppress workers rights and make Germany ready for war. The army approved of his plans and when President Hindenburg died in August, they supported his promotion to Fuhrer.

The "Final Solution"
(the Holocaust) saw the death of
6 million Jews.
Since 1933 the Nazis had excluded the Jews and other "undesirables" from the public life. However, in September 1935, at the Nuremberg rally Hitler announced laws denying Jewish people citizenship and to marry or have sexual relations with people with German blood or decent. Hitler characterized the laws as an effort to achieve the "final solution". Under the new laws, Jews became targeted for persecution and was the direct course of the Night of Broken Glass. In November 1938 many Jewish residents and shops had their windows smashed and some were burnt down. Around 100 Jews were killed and thousands were arrested. From this time and on-wards huge numbers of Jews were around up and taken to concentration camps. Until the end of the conflict in 1945 over 6 million Jews were murdered within these camps by the SS. 

Hitler wished to see Germany great again and territorial expansion was part of achieving this. In March 1938, Hitler led his Nazi troops into Austria, achieving his dream to unify the two countries. Main countries, like Britain and France ignored Hitler's invasion at a attempt to prevent war. In September Neville Chamberlain (British Prime Minister) organised a conference in Munich and here all of Hitler's demands for Germany empire expansion was granted. Later that year Nazi troops marched into Czechoslovakia and took Sudetenland.

Hitler the looked east to Poland. Although before he could do anything he had to make a deal with Stalin's USSR. In late August 1939, the two powers agreed to a non-aggression pact. On 1st September the invasion of Poland began. Hitler was confident that Britain and France would not retaliate to help Poland. He was wrong, Britain and France declared war on 3rd September.

Poland was soon taken by Germany. Hitler's Blitzrieg tactics allowed the German army to take countries with a brutal single stroke. 

On 17th June 1940, France surrendered allowing Hitler to take revenge for the German defeat from two decades ago. Hitler ensured the French submitted at Compiegne in the same train carriage Germany had been forced to sign the Armistice which ended the First World War.

Churchill, Roosevelt & Stalin
making a alliance agreement. 
Despite the Nazi/Soviet Pact, Hitler hated the communists. Hitler was growing extremely suspicious of Stalin. Hitler planned to defeat and invade Western Europe before turning on the Soviet Union. However, when Soviet troops marched into Baltic States in 1941, Hitler decided to turn on them and invade the USSR. Hitler believed the Red Army would be defeated in a few months. He was wrong and to make it worst he declared war with another supper power, the US.

Hitler took control of the operations of the army in the Eastern-Front, convinced he was the only one to make the invasion successful. He directed the army from his headquarters which was thousands of miles away from the action. However, in February 1943, at Stalingrad, the German forces could not hold the city as they were outnumbered, freezing and starving. Hitler blamed the officers on the ground for ignoring orders. As he was the main person in command of the troops, he saw criticism for the first time because of the defeat.

Germany was losing control of the Eastern-Front. German forces retreated from Russia and in June 1944, the Allied forces landed in Normandy on D-Day. Hitler saw the invasion as a good thing and believed his forces could take the US and Britain out of the war.

The Wolf's Lair after
the 20th July Plot (Operation Valkyrie)
With the major turn of the success of the war was in favour of the Allies, many of Germany's loyal commanders now wanted Hitler dead to end the war for good and save lives. Hitler became increasingly paranoid as he had already had five attempts on his life. On 20th July 1944, saw the closest one yet. Hitler met with his military leaders at the Wolf's Lair Headquarters. Lieutenant Colonel Claus von Staufferberg left a bomb in a briefcase in the conference room. The blast killed three officers. However, Hitler escaped with minor injuries as he was shielded by the oak table which took much of the force of the explosion.  

In April 1945, the Soviet army were close to Berlin. Hitler excepted defeat. So he married Eva Braun, who had been his girlfriend for the last 11 years. They got married on the 29th April. The next day they both took a cyanide pill. Hitler then shot himself in the head. Their remains and two dogs were later discovered in his bunker by the Red Army.