When Warren Elsmore was given the choice of continuing a career in IT or building Lego structures for a living it was an easy decision.
Warren’s Brick Built - Iconic Creations in Lego Bricks exhibition is on display at North Lanarkshire Heritage Centre, Motherwell, until August 15.
A celebration of the possibilities of Lego bricks, Warren presents some favourite creations from his best selling range of books, In Brick City, Brick Wonders, Brick Flicks and Brick Wheels.
Forty famous cities, historical landmarks, films and vehicles are recreated from the Forth Road Bridge to the Arc De Triomphe to the Wizard of Oz.
Warren said: “I was 15 years in IT which was really, really dull, I was a huge fan of Lego as a kid and came back to it in my early 20s and carried on enjoying playing with it.
“In 2012 I was asked do a project for the Danish Tourist Board and the London Olympics which led to my first book, I had so much work coming in I had to decide between IT or Lego building and Lego was much more fun.
“There aren’t many professional Lego builders, maybe 50 across 20 firms worldwide, and only two in the UK, but it is a job kids can aspire to.”
The star of the Brick Built exhibition is the 150kg Forth Road Bridge and being Edinburgh-based Warren says it is nice to be able to put such a huge model of display.
He said: “The exhibitions go all over the country, but it can be difficult transporting the very large models so it’s nice to be in Motherwell as it is close to home and we can give an airing to a larger construction that the public don’t often get to see.
“Everything here is a model that I’ve designed, some are trial and error, if they are not too big you can get away with that, but the larger models require computer aided designs (CAD) so I can work out exactly what I need, otherwise you would be at it for days.
“I use absolutely bog standard Lego bricks, there is no gluing or cutting, something like the Forth Road Bridge is built around a steel structure as it weighs a quarter of a tonne so wouldn’t be self supporting, but as far the materials go it’s exactly the same bricks you can buy in any shop.”
Although turning a hobby into a profession means Warren has extra responsibilities, he still loves what he does.
He said: “It’s certainly more of a job than it used to be , I have to organise meetings, make proposals and write the books, but it’s still great fun and I don’t know what I am going to be asked next so there is always a sense of surprise.”
Warren admits he has some favourites, but has plenty of ideas for new models that he hopes to build one day.
He said: “I have a model of St Pancreas Station that is very well known so I have a real sweet spot for it because it’s the model that got me my first book deal and got me the initial publicity so that started the whole thing off.
“But every model is different, I’ve got one of Thunderbird 4 that I did years ago, occasionally when I am building model that just works, I pull out the bricks I think will fit together and on that occasion it did, and is one of the very few to do that.
“So long as it’s not someone else’s property, I can’t do Mickey Mouse for example, then really the world is my oyster, you name it and it can be built in Lego.
“There is a long list of projects in my head of things that I want to do and somehow work into a book in the future .”
Unlike a lot of art installations Warren isn’t trying to convey a message he just hopes people have a good day out.
He said: “I don’t want people to get anything out of it other than to just enjoy it, I know people of all ages like Lego because it is great fun.
“Everyone has some sort of connection with Lego which is nice so you don’t need to introduce what it is, all you are doing is showing off what you can do with a lot of it.”
Entry to Brick Built is free, although there will be a small charge for the Lego room where you can build your own creations from 10am- 4pm each day.
Warren’s new book Brick Wheels: Amazing Air, Land & Sea Machines to Build from Lego is released on July 6, RRP £12.99.
For more Lego fun head along to Motherwell Library on July 7, 17, 21 and 28 for Lego, Let’s Go! Awesome Animations from 11am-3pm and make your own short animated Lego film.
Cost is £8 per session for ages 8+ and booking is advised by calling 01236 632828.