The art of the brick by Nathan Sawaya

Being that it’s half term this week, I have been looking for things to do with S to keep him out of trouble busy. Last week I read about The art of the brick exhibition at the Truman Brewery and it sounded like just the kind of thing I was looking for.

Nathan Sawaya is the artist behind these magnificent creations, all built out of simple Lego blocks. He started building from Lego as an outlet after a hard day’s work and before he knew it, he turned his hobby into his passionate life’s work. His exhibitions around the world have broken attendance records and his works of art have been displayed in New York, Hong Kong, Melbourne and now London, to name a few.

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“I like using LEGO bricks as a medium because I enjoy seeing people’s reaction to artwork created from something with which they are familiar. …My goal is to elevate this simple plaything to a place it has never been before. I also appreciate the cleanliness of the LEGO® brick. The right angles. The distinct lines. But, from a distance, those right angles and distinct lines offer new perspectives, changing to curves.”
Nathan Sawaya

I’ll let the pictures do the talking but if you’re in London, the exhibition is running until January 2015 and is worth the visit. Book your tickets online (children under 3 are free) to avoid queuing and take public transport to get there. We decided to drive because it was raining and there were four of us (2 adults, 2 toddlers) but it took us an hour to get there and an hour back (with 2 boisterous toddlers in the back seat, I’ll let you imagine how that journey felt!)

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I LOVED the philosophical meaning behind many of his pieces.

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All his works of art were so impressive but the sheer size of the dinosaur and the perfection of it totally blew me away!!

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I didn’t realise the “keep calm and…” craze isn’t a new trend but actually dates back to 1939!!

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After going through the whole exhibition asking S not to touch the displays, it was nice to let them at it in the Lego play area.

Gender Stereotyping and how it affects our children

If you follow me on Facebook, you’ll notice I’ve posted a few articles recently on gender stereotyping and how it affects our children. There have been petitions signed, lobbyists and bloggers all rising up against gender stereotyping, especially in stores like Toys r Us where there is a very obvious divide between boys and girls toys. Boys toys being packaged in blues or dark colours and girls toys being predominantly pink in colour.

When I was growing up as a child, I was quite the tomboy. I played lots of sport (including football with all my brother’s friends), was always scraping my knees, hanging off trees and other activities which would now be considered very “boy’ish”. My dad always encouraged me to help him fix things and so today I can navigate a toolbox with ease. But I also love the colour pink, dresses, make up, manicures and mommyhood. So surely playing with “boys toys” didn’t affect how much of a girl I can be.

Some people may ask: “What’s wrong with girls playing with pink and boys playing with blue things?”

Here’s what I think. By gender stereotyping, you’re narrowing your child’s mind to accept anything that society says is meant for him/her. That’s not to say you shouldn’t dress your child in pink. Hell, if I had a daughter today, she’d be covered in pink, white and all things pretty. But I wouldn’t limit her exploration of toys or ideas about what she could do in the world. Want to jump in muddy puddles in your baby pink skirt? Go for it!

When I lived in Hong Kong, S absolutely loved prams (and micro scooters). If he saw them at the playground he’d go and start pushing it around. One Sunday I went to a carnival with some friends and they were giving away free pink toy prams. So we took one home and for the week after, every time S was going down to the playground, I’d send his pram with him. One day my helper came back and told me the other helpers laugh because he’s a boy and he’s pushing a pink pram around. This is the kind of thinking that gets to me. Today, S has naturally gravitated towards more “boy like” toys. He loves cars and trains and most of his toys are blue, yellow, orange or red.

I do worry though that boys who are told they can’t push prams or wear pink will be the men who believe a woman’s place is in the home. In other words, male chauvanists.

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The other thing about gender stereotyping is it creates self limiting beliefs in children. If a girl is made to believe that she’s only meant to be soft, delicate, quiet, etc., how will she go out there and in the words of Beyoncé, “run the world”?

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Getting over gender stereotyping will take time, after all we’ve all been moulded into it but get over it, we must, especially for the next generation. I met some friends a few weeks ago and one of them was telling me how she’s doing a master’s in construction. My first thought was wow, that might be tough because it’s such a male dominated industry. But before I could finish my thought, I felt proud of her. Here was a girl, taking on what’s typically a male industry AND doing it well. There’s someone who hasn’t let gender stereotyping hold her back.

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Here are some good articles I came across:

http://everydaylife.globalpost.com/five-ways-parents-can-reduce-gender-stereotyping-children-3236.html

http://www.education.com/reference/article/Ref_Parenting_Gender/

http://voices.yahoo.com/gender-role-stereotypes-they-effect-childs-4842688.html

So what do you think? When you look at your kids toys, do they tend to fall into the pink for girls and blue for boys category? And has that been intentional or is it just the way things have happened naturally? I’d love to hear your thoughts.