Victorian on Mud Heap

5.5' x 6' x 3'
110k - 130k  pieces
Black, white, dark and light bluish gray, clear trans and black trans colors used.
No foreign materials (wood, glue, paint or otherwise) were used – this is pure Lego.

No altered Lego (painted,  custom, cut or otherwise).
Photo retouching used only for adding contrast and color correction & background.
Approx 600 hours to build
Third in my series of Abandoned Houses
(also, my third moc)

Special Thanks
To my wife, Stephanie, for her support and generous patience
The afol/moc community for design inspiration and techniques to make this possible.

MOC Page
To purchase this print and or a piece of the model

The third installment of this abandoned house series continues its textural exploration of decay with a Victorian home engulfed in mud. The mud travels through the first floor, tears down a front wall and oozes over the porch side, taking with it household contents of convenience. This detail opens the piece up, allowing the eye to travel the surface of the house and then back through the porch, into a room and back out to survey the piles of garbage. The play on depth here is something I enjoy as one has a glimpse of the activity behind this architectural scrim.

The house, itself, was chosen due to the repeating angled roofs that reach up high. This gives the architectural mass a certain rhythm that I found appealing. Also, abstractly, this echos the gothic representation of cathedrals – with their many spires – reaching upward to the heavens. While this is not a religious piece, there is a certain contemplation that I find in it.

On that note, of particular interest to me in this work is the notion of broken trust and faith. Foundations give way. Permanence transmutes into fragility. Our safe havens betray us.

For me, this piece speaks to the inherent unpredictability of those things which we call our foundation. Like a little dollhouse, a seemingly secure home is plucked up and set on a new path. This charming home, lovingly embellished with ornamental fancy was no match for nature. The fancy embellishments serve as a reminder of our earlier focus on the material world, while the aftermath removes us from that focus. The piece offers no answers or necessarily any hope, but rather points to life's fragility.

Strong foundations are the essence of safe havens. These foundations can be physical foundations (an orderly home, for instance), ideological foundations (religion and politics), financial foundations (steady income and solid investments), social foundations (emotional ties to others) and so on. Our well-being is pinned on these safe havens that we hold on to as a place to fall back in times of stress and trouble. Amidst the chaos of environments we cannot control – whether physical, financial, social or mental – the house is one of the ultimate icons representing a safe haven. It is the final retreat and escape of the day where we can let go of the external pressures (or at least some of them) that grip us during the day. Here, in the home, with the world locked behind a door, we control what will be our guest and what will not.

However, this and other safe havens betray. The door can be kicked in at the blink of an eye and our foundation instantly dissolves. Local events of recent – catastrophic earthquakes, tsunami, nuclear radiation leaks, record fires, floods and tornadoes – all presented real devastation to many personal safe havens. Graft and corruption in media, government, financial sectors and businesses betray a sense of social order that provides for us a mental, moral safe haven. Untouchable international crime organizations silently hack large databases of personal information with crushing effect to individuals' financial safe haven. Financial institutions and the people within unapologetically bring the world to its knees through reckless, greedy practices. Religious safe havens (whether "Christian" or otherwise) are assaulted from within as certain fundamentalists carve out their own scriptural interpretations of hate toward others. A democratic superpower representing life, liberty and happiness denies personal rights and institutes a policy of indefinite personal torture and the threat of it. And so it goes. All the planning, effort and unbreakable trust we put in our foundations – whatever form they take – can falter without warning.

Such it is. Life events that kick at our door or we witness through others temporarily blasts the scrim open, revealing – like the hole in this model's wall – the fragility of our own foundations and, perhaps for a moment, a sense of gratitude for those foundations left standing and greater clarity as to which safe havens are truly important to our well-being.

– Mike


Jana said...

These houses are amazing!!! They remind me of a horror novel called "The Elementals," by Michael McDowell. I just posted about it on my blog:
Hope you don't mind!

It's a perfect read for the upcoming Halloween season! :o)

Anonymous said...

Dear lord.

Perseverance and vision - you have 'em both.

The Poster said...

That's just amazing. I still think I like your 2nd house more compositionally, but the detail and thought that went into this is simply unmatched.

I have to ask, even though I can guess already given your dedication, does that mud pile on the left actually hold together like Lego normally does, or did you just pour some random parts onto a pile and let it sit like that?

Mike Doyle said...

The mud is all attached. It is actually a thin scrim that webs down. You can see how I made in the "making of..." post. What you see are pieces on 4x8 or so plates. The plates are suspended by using Lego hoses attached in a few places to each plate and then to the base. This allows for a light, flexible matrix of covered plates that can be manipulated to any angle. It really beats using hinges which are "brittle" to use and less flexible.

Vel Baricuatro-Criste, MD said...

Utterly brilliant and amazing!!!!! you rock! Hope its ok to share this link and Some of your pics on my blog? Thanks!