Australian pop-artist immortalises Greek Revolution heroines in LEGO

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Walking into the Sydney studio of Australian ‘Lego Classicist,’ Pop-Artist and Historical Archivist, Liam D. Jensen, is like stepping into an exciting alternate universe.

To my right, is a shelf filled with family photos, historical books and artworks of ancient ruins. To my left, is an entire wall dedicated to Liam’s custom-designed LEGO figures including three related to the Greek Revolution – General Theodoros Kolokotronis, Alexandros Mavrokordatos and Lord Byron.

Standing amongst it all is Liam himself with a huge smile, welcoming handshake and kind offer of Greek shortbread if I ever get hungry during our interview.

Liam’s wall of custom-designed LEGO figures. All photos copyright: The Greek Herald / Andriana Simos.

The Australian Lego Classicist’s strong connection to Greece:

My first contact with Liam was back in March 2021 when he was asked by the Director of The British School at Athens, Professor John Bennett, to create one-off LEGO figures of Kolokotronis, Mavrokordatos and Lord Byron to mark the Greek Revolution bicentenary.

This year though, Liam says he wanted to make his Greek Revolution collection more ‘equal and inclusive’ and so decided to immortalise three Greek heroines in LEGO as well.

They are: Greek naval commander Laskarina Bouboulina, Greek patriot and commander Manto Mavrogenous, and the lesser-known ‘Bouboulina of Thrace’ Domna Visvizi.

Bouboulina, Mavrogenous and Visvizi have been added to Liam’s collection.

One glance at this specific selection of female heroines makes it clear that Liam has a strong knowledge and passion for Ancient Greece and its history. But where does it all come from?

He tells me it stems back to his childhood.

“I grew up with it. My mother’s passionate about Greece… and she’s an ancient history teacher as well,” Liam says, while explaining how his mother was ‘medically retired’ but received a new lease on life by donating art collections relating to the ancient world back to academic institutions.

“So at an intellectual level, that’s definitely inspired me but it goes much deeper than that too. When I was six years old, we packed up our bags as an entire family to move to Greece permanently.

“We were trying to put down proper routes there but we just didn’t quite have the financial resources to kind of just get it done. In the end, it was such an intense six months.”

Liam has a strong connection to Greece. He holds a photo here of his time on the Greek island of Naxos.

Creating his LEGO heroines:

It’s this intense love for both ancient and modern Greece which Liam has channelled into his LEGO figures of Bouboulina, Mavrogenous and Visvizi.

Each Greek Revolution figure is meticulously researched and digitally designed to ensure they adhere to the first rule in Liam’s ‘Lego Classicist’ Manifesto – making them ‘feel’ like the heroine rather than making them ‘look’ like the heroine.

Bouboulina’s ferocious, calm and ‘not to be crossed’ face is based off the famous oil painting of her that hangs in the National Museum of History in Athens. Being the most well-known out of the three heroines meant she was easier to create.

Liam in his studio.

Mavrogenous and Visvizi were a different matter altogether.

“Mavrogenous was an interesting challenge as she is such an important and strong person but the way she used her influences in greater society to support the war was so subtle,” Liam explains.

“It’s very hard to portray that through the medium of Lego, but I wanted to show a face that seemed approachable on the surface yet had strong intelligence internally and be someone you should never cross.

Liam meticulously designs each LEGO figure. He’s working on Visvizi here.
Bouboulina design.

“Visvizi is personally my favourite, both the person and the Lego Portrait. She is a lesser-known woman in the history of this war and so it’s much harder to find images.

“But the one engraving I did find reminded me of a swashbuckling pirate in her dress… so in the end that was the feel I went for: strong and passionate with an enthusiasm ready for a sea battle.”

With that said, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more accurate artistic representation of Bouboulina, Mavrogenous and Visvizi, and just in time to celebrate the anniversary of the Greek Revolution as well!

*All photos copyright The Greek Herald / Andriana Simos.

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