Golden Globe Awards 2012

It was a triumphant night for British talent at last night’s Golden Globes.

Click here for photos from the ceremony and the red carpet

British recipients of the Golden Globe awards included Kate Winslet, Idris Elba and period drama Downton Abbey.

An emotional Kate Winslet picked up an award for Best Actress in a Miniseries or TV Movie for her role in Mildred Pierce. She told the audience: "I'd like to thank the Hollywood Foreign Press for giving this award to me and for putting me in a category with such incredible heavyweights whom I feel honoured to stand alongside."

Discussing the show's win at last year's Emmy Awards, the New Statesman's Ryan Gilbey questioned whether all the best directors are heading to TV:

Not too long ago, this would have looked like a knock-out cast list for a mid-budget, grown-up Hollywood movie: Glenn Close, Alec Baldwin, Forest Whitaker, Kelly Macdonald, Steve Buscemi, James Woods, Guy Pearce, Michael Pitt, Gabriel Byrne, Kathy Bates, Minnie Driver... Now, it represents a cursory roll-call of US television.

ITV period drama Downton Abbey about the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants was named best television miniseries, proving the show's success on both sides of the Atlantic. The show's creator, Oscar-winner Julian Fellowes, who accepted the award at the Beverly Hills ceremony said: "The whole Downton Abbey adventure has been an extraordinary one, like spotting a promising child and waking up to find they won the Olympics."

However, Rachel Cooke in the New Statesman opined:

How is it that this much-hyped series has turned out to be such a disappointment? I was determined to love it and, after struggling to feel even remotely involved during part one, I decided to keep my doubts to myself. Perhaps it would pick up. Yes, I felt patronised by the explanatory dialogue. Yes, the soundtrack was intrusive. Yes, virtually every costume-drama cliché one can think of had been concertinaed into a little over an hour's worth of television... Yet, now that I've seen part two, I'm already thoroughly sick of the bitchy servants and couldn't care less who inherits Lord Grantham's pile. If they turned Downton into timeshare flats, I'm not sure I would be exactly sad. Julian Fellowes, who won an Oscar for his script for Gosford Park, another big-house-in-changing-times drama, is obsessed by social class and I think Downton Abbey is a victim of that fixation: the series has no light and shade because its only preoccupation is where anyone stands in the house's hierarchy. As a result, everything else - plot, character - has been bleached out...

This is status-quo television, uncomplicated and undemanding, with backstories that are easily tied up between ad breaks."

British star Idris Elba collected a best actor award for his role in BBC crime series Luther at the ceremony, which was hosted for the third time by British comedian Ricky Gervais.

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“I see the world in rectangles”: Life as a Lego Master Builder

Nathan Sawaya stunned colleagues when he quit his job as a lawyer to play with Lego full-time. Now everyone from Lady Gaga to Barack Obama’s a fan.

Nathan Sawaya is describing his favourite Lego brick, shiny-eyed and grinning at the thought of it. But he’s not a child proudly displaying a beloved toy. He’s a 43-year-old former corporate lawyer, and well over six foot tall. The brick he is evangelising about is a small 1x2 socket plate with a stud in the centre of its top. He calls this a “Jumper”.

“You know your Lego lingo?” he asks, looking crestfallen when I shake my head. “It has only one stud instead of two, and it allows you to do even more detail because you can offset the brick a little bit. But in general, I focus on the rectangular pieces.”


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Sawaya is one of the world’s eight Lego Master Builders, having left his job at a New York law firm when he was 32 to dedicate his life to building Lego constructions full-time. His most striking works include a torso of a man ripping his chest open with bricks spilling out, called Yellow, a lifesize T-Rex skeleton, a two-metre long model of Brooklyn Bridge, and replicas of famous paintings, including the Mona Lisa, and Edvard Munch’s Scream.

I meet him in a dark exhibition space in a tent on London’s Southbank, where his works are lit up around us. His latest constructions consist of a series of DC Comics superheroes, so we are surrounded by expressionless Supermen flying around us, capes realistically rippling, and a full-size Batmobile with glistening batwings. His boyish eagerness aside, Sawaya himself looks like a comic book villain – a hulking figure dressed in black from top to toe, with a long black overcoat, piercing eyes and thick dark hair.


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Back in his early thirties when he was a lawyer, he would come home after a punishing day at work and do something creative – drawing, painting, sculpting with clay and wire. He soon began to experiment with Lego, constructing models out of sets he had lying around the house. His son, now 17, was never particularly interested in playing with it himself.

“Eventually I made the choice to leave the law firm behind and become a full-time artist who plays with toys,” he beams.

His family was supportive, his colleagues jealous, and his bosses confused – but it wasn’t long until Sawaya found success as a Lego artist. He has had exhibitions of his work on every continent but Antarctica, and gained some high-profile fans. When he was US President, Barack Obama posed with one of his installations – monochrome life-size men sitting on park benches in Washington – and Bill Clinton has a sculpture in his office, as does Lady Gaga in a music video.

“That is the magic of Lego,” he says of his popularity. “It has become a universal language in a way.”


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Sawaya’s Master Builder status means he can buy all his bricks directly from Lego in bulk – not possible for us Lego civilians. He used to buy sets in toy shops and on eBay when starting out; now he can email asking for 500,000 red 2x4 bricks, say, and Lego ships them to him on wooden pallets. He has six million bricks on hand at his studio in Los Angeles. “Millions of each colour and shape and size,” he says. “And they’re all organised by shape and colour.”

He works away for hours at a time in his studio, with his dogs obediently at his feet, in what he describes as a “trance”. He plans designs on special “brick paper” like graph paper, but sometimes he free-builds from his imagination. “I do often see the world in rectangles,” he says, and sometimes he even dreams in bricks.

Just like children do with Lego sets, he simply snaps the bricks together – though he does dab glue between each brick, which triples the time it takes. He describes it as “therapeutic”, but says making a mistake can be “heartbreaking” – he can lose days and weeks of work at a time. “There may be times where I start questioning my choices in life,” he smiles.


Photos: Copyright Jane Hobson

Sawaya faced snobbery from the art world when he first began approaching galleries as a Lego artist. “Oh, is that cars and trucks and little castles?” was the response. He feels it’s now a more acceptable medium. “It makes art accessible,” he says. “And in doing that, it democratises the art world a bit. It allows people to relate to the art. Everyone has snapped a brick together at one point, every child has played a little bit with Lego.

“As an artist, my role is to inspire. And what better way to do it than through a medium everyone is familiar with? If someone sees a marble statue, they can appreciate it, but very few people have marble at home they can chip away at.”

The first Lego creation Sawaya can remember making was a little house, when he was first given the toy at the age of five. He then made a city that grew to 36 square feet. When he was ten, he was desperate for a dog. His parents refused, so he tore all his creations down and built a lifesize one. “It was blocky and very multi-coloured, of course,” he says. “But it was that ‘Aha!’ moment – when I realised it doesn’t have to be on the front of the box. It can be whatever I want.”

The Art of the Brick: DC Super Heroes is on at Upper Ground, Southbank, London, until 3 September 2017.

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.

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