Lego artist showcases behemoth Lego sculptures in Tel Aviv port

A new exhibit in Tel Aviv Port this summer showcases detailed Lego sculptures by Lego brick artist Sean Kenney, a Lego Certified Professional (LCP) from New York who is having his work displayed in Israel for the first time. 

As an LCP, Kenney is one of 16 Lego builders from around the world recognized by the Denmark-based Lego Group as business partners and as expert Lego builders. (LCPs do not formally work for the company.)

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“I’ve always loved to create. Even as a young child, drawing and designing were a big part of my life,” Kenney told The Jerusalem Post by email. “I was a total ‘Lego maniac’ and were usually the only toys I ever asked for when my birthday would come around each year… My models slowly became more involved and elaborate as I got older, and eventually I started building Lego models professionally.  Now it‘s my full-time career.”

When asked about why he decided to have his work exhibited in Israel this year, and about the process of getting the exhibit set up, he wrote, “I am always excited to bring my work to fans around the world.  This exhibit is the first time I have had my work on display in Israel… We have to do a lot of planning and logistics not only to create the sculptures but also to transport them and install them. I have a whole team of artists and helpers that are a big part of creating this show, [and] there are twelve of us here at my studio building and designing models… as well as four folks that handle the show logistics and installations.”

During a press preview of the exhibit, held at Hangar 11 on the port, exhibit coordinator and promoter Lior Kamali told The Jerusalem Post that he found out about Kenney and coordinated with him to bring the sculptures to Israel. He has been involved with other Lego exhibitions in Israel before, and is himself a Lego fan and builder.

Kamali also thinks the building toy can be beneficial in other ways, which ties into why he works with Lego exhibits. For kids that deal with educational challenges such as ADHD, he said, he thinks Lego is helpful, and “that’s why it’s very important for me to bring [these exhibits to Israel], to inspire the kids.”

The exhibition space has been divided into two areas: an area devoted to displaying Kenney’s art, and an area with interactive Lego activities.

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In the area with Kenney‘s art, his Lego creations are arranged thematically, in what Kamali called different rooms, although the exhibit is arranged along one continuous path. One ‘room’ focuses on transportation, featuring train cars and a Brooklyn Bridge replica; another focuses on larger-than-life models of children’s toys, such as a giant multicolored xylophone.

A ‘design room’ features Kenney’s geometric mosaics and Lego lamps, which are available for purchase (for hundreds of dollars) at the event; a ‘city room’ includes a model of Times Square made of 20,000 bricks and a lime-green bicycle rising above a crowded traffic jam of Lego cars, made of 75,000 bricks.

The Lego art being displayed in Tel Aviv took over 10,000 hours to create, according to Kenney, and all together are made of almost a million Lego bricks. The bricks in each sculpture are glued together to make the sculptures strong enough to be transported, and they are shipped around the world in custom-made wood and foam crates.

The cornerstone of the exhibit, “Growing Ideas,” is a brick-built cityscape—with brick-built shops, skyscrapers, and a river—that surrounds a large tree with a cloud at its top instead of leaves. Lego bricks ‘rain’ down from the cloud, suspended in midair by clear thread. An event spokesperson said this is only the second time the sculpture has ever been on display.

The sculpture contains around 368,000 pieces, according to the placard explaining it. Kenney said that the sculpture took two and a half years to make, and is “the biggest LEGO creation I‘ve ever built.”

The exhibit’s interactive area, which does not have any models built by Kenney, includes motor-powered Lego vehicles and robots that children can control; a sprawling Lego cityscape that features both official Lego models and original creations by Kamali; and a building area that has only lime-green Lego bricks, to challenge kids to build models like Kenney’s green bicycle.

Spokespeople for the Tel Aviv exhibit said that Kenney will not be visiting Israel for the event, and that this exhibit has no connection to the currently-operating Lego Park Holon or the Lego Group itself.