Irish artist David Turner has a new exhibit in an interesting medium: LEGOs. The Belfast-based artist uses the plastic bricks to create works inspired by his childhood in Northern Ireland during “The Troubles”, but he’s run into troubles of his own with the anti-gun group Gun Control Network, which is demanding Turner’s Lego-built firearms be removed from a gallery exhibition of his work. From the BBC:
Replicas of pistols and machine guns made by Belfast artist David Turner feature in a Lego exhibition at the Harley Gallery in Nottinghamshire.
The Gun Control Network said the work’s inclusion was “promoting guns”.
But Mr Turner said the work was inspired by his childhood in Northern Ireland at the height of The Troubles.
Turner, who was born in Belfast in 1968, said: “It was very much guns every single day with the police and the Army.
“The first thing I did as a child was I went to the Lego box and I made toy guns, so I could run around the nursery with a Lego gun.
“And what that installation represents is simply this, it’s nothing more complicated than that.”
He added: “It absolutely does not glamorise guns. It is what it is. It is a representation of guns made entirely from Lego.
“I’ve made artwork on subject matters that would curl your toes, and it’s never got this reaction anywhere else.”
That’s because the reaction from the Gun Control Network isn’t truly based on outrage. It’s based on publicity. It doesn’t matter how idiotic it may be to claim that an art exhibit featuring firearms made from LEGOs is somehow promoting gun ownership (particularly in Great Britain) as long as the press spells the name of their gun control group correctly.
But the Gun Control Network said it was “complete nonsense” to suggest the work had “any artistic value”.
“A display of replica guns is merely a display of replica guns,” a spokesman said.
They have called on the Harley Gallery to remove the Lego replica guns from the installation and “accept it was an error of judgement”.
The gallery’s director Lisa Gee said: “Art is designed to challenge our beliefs and preconceptions and spark conversations. It’s getting people to debate many issues, which is what good art is all about.”
She added there had also been many positive responses from children in the visitor book.
While I do believe the Gun Control Network is primarily interested in publicity, I’m sure they weren’t happy to learn that the exhibit has received a positive response from kids. After all, what happens if these kids go home and build LEGO guns of their own? Why, one day when they’re adults they might possibly decide to replace their LEGO bricks with a real firearm, and we can’t have that now, can we?
If the Gun Control Network actually spoke to Turner, they would have found out that he’s not exactly a fan of gun ownership (at least according to his biography).
Growing up in turbulent Belfast during the 70’s and 80’s, Turner was surrounded by violence and conflict. These events have had a direct influence on his life and artwork, causing him to revisit his adolescence and recreate these memories with childhood mediums such as LEGO, Hama Beads and plasticine. Turner’s artwork presents a platform that is both a direct reflection of his childhood and the conflict he experienced as well as giving a voice to current atrocities, be they children of war, child soldiers or children who have lost their lives or a loved one to gun violence.
Even though Turner might be an ideological ally, the gun control group seems determined to turn him into an enemy simply for refusing to comply with their demands. It’s almost as if control of others in general is just as important to the group as “gun control” specifically.
You can find Turner’s collection here, which is pretty impressive as far as LEGO sculptures go.