Brick By Brick. Step By Step.

Mary Tweed
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Over half term, I took my family to a fantastic art exhibition, called Art of the Brick, featuring over 80 sculptures and works of art. We saw replicas of Michelangelo’s David; a six and half metre dinosaur skeleton; a Rembrandt self portrait; and many works from the artist’s imagination. The artist is Nathan Sawaya and his medium is lego. Yes, you read that correctly, I did indeed write lego. He uses exactly the same lego bricks that you and I used to play with as children and probably still step on accidentally in our children’s bedrooms. What I found most appealing was that it was possible to enjoy this exhibition on so many levels, whether as a six year old or as a ninety-six year old.

Nathan Sawaya had worked as a corporate lawyer, until he decided that the conventional path was not for him and that he needed to express himself artistically. Many of his works are inspired by the idea of breaking free, turning one’s back on convention, and opting for an uncertain path in life. One that particularly struck me was this 167.5cm tall sculpture entitled Grasp. It depicts the figure of a man striving to walk forward, but being constrained by three sets of hands pulling him backwards. This is how the artist described the piece:

“No matter where your heart wants to lead you, there will be hands that try to hold you back. Life’s challenge is to find the strength to break free. I created this sculpture in response to so many people telling me “no” in my life. I wanted to break free of those people.”

It prompted me to consider the question of being held back, whether in one’s goal to build a life sized lego sculpture, or of in instigating a new exercise regime. There are many things that serve to constrain us in life, not simply other people telling us that we can’t do something. Our own beliefs often inhibit us, or our lack of skills in a particular area, or simply we find the task too daunting to commence. The idea of building such a sculpture fills me with awe and yet, Nathan Sawaya began to build it one tiny brick at a time. I know that I have the skill within me to afix one lego brick to another, indeed, it is a skill I mastered at the age of three. I also know that I have neither the patience, determination nor the imagination to conceive such a work of art, but he persevered until 17,356 bricks later he had assembled a masterpiece. And it all started with one single brick.

In considering an exercise regime we are deterred by many factors. Maybe we were branded unsporty as a child and feel that we don’t belong in that category. It could be that we like the look of a sport, but are intimidated by the esoteric jargon that accompanies it, reinforcing the idea of it belonging to the clutches an elite clique. Or perhaps we are discouraged by our own lack of skills and the Herculean task that is involved in mastering the technique. And yet, if we break it down, it can all begin with one tiny step. Literally.

There is no excuse to be held back. If you are able to walk, you are in the perfect position to undertake a new regime. By adding poles and learning how to Nordic Walk, you are working out more effectively and increasing your fitness levels step by easy step. Mastering a new skill engenders confidence and perhaps it will lead on to experimenting with other forms of sport and exercise. Who knows, maybe you will be running a marathon within a year? What an achievement that would be! Don’t let any hands hold you back, it all begins with one simple step.

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