LIAM D. JENSEN
The Brick Classicists Empire or BCE (previously Lego Classicists) is the brain-child of Liam D. Jensen, known as “The Lego Classicist", who has been creating members of the BCE and telling their stories since 2016.
Liam D. Jensen is an historical archivist who specialises in historical paper collections. He has a particular interest in film and the portrayal of historical themes in popular culture. Jensen is also a 4th generation artist, whose primary media are filmmaking and graphic art. As LDJ Independent Historical Archivist he has archived and prepared collections of original historical engravings, photographs and sketches now in the collections of institutions including the University of Oxford, the University of Sydney, the British School at Athens and the Uffizi Gallery, Florence. He currently archives the Lynette Jensen Collection and prepares it for donation.
With a background in filmmaking, for many years Jensen was historical archivist and curator of the AHL Historical Archive which houses the collections of the major Australian cinema chain, Greater Union (now Events Cinemas), that played a direct role in the establishment of feature film, where he built and recorded the collection of mainly film-related material and worked on the publication of the company’s centennial history book, AHL: 100 Years of Entertainment. There he developed his specialist interest in Australian Daybill film posters. As a filmmaker, he has made a number of short films that have been screened at the Mercury Cinema Adelaide, Kino Sydney and the Adelaide International Film Festival as well as training and other corporate videos for organisations including the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney and the South Australian Department for Education. He currently voluntarily records and produces academic talks for selected academics for the historical record. Using his filmmaking training he is developing a new method of editing that combines academic structure into each recorded talk turning them into a form he describes as “Academic Videos”.
Delivering a collection to the British School at Rome, 2016. From left to right: Valerie Scott (BSR Librarian), Prof. Christopher Smith (BSR Director), Liam D. Jensen, Dr. Alessandra Giovenco (BSR Archivist). Photo by the British School at Rome.
Liam D. Jensen is compiling the developing LDJ Archive, which consists of the Australian Daybill Film Poster collection of around a thousand film posters, a collection of antique engravings related to Captain James Cook, and the recently begun Classics In Comics archive of physical comic books which portray ancient world themes. These collections are being built for eventual donation to international educational institutions for research and scholarship. To date, he has curated and donated collections of Daybill film posters to institutions including the British School at Rome, AC ARTs Adelaide and Macquarie University, Sydney, and is currently compiling a major collection for the Australian National Motor Museum. His Ben-Hur to Brian curated exhibition of Australian Daybill film posters was the last permanent exhibition of the recently closed Museum of Ancient Cultures, at Macquarie University, Sydney.
Liam D. Jensen is also the creator of the BCE, the pop-art initiative that brings ancient world scholars, students and enthusiasts together with the general public through the power of LEGO and social media and the internet. In this capacity he has collaborated with the J. Paul Getty Museum on a social media project and articles about his work have appeared in BBC News Online, Antike Welt, the Society of Antiquaries SALON, the Society for Classical Studies (USA) and the Italian online journal ClassiCult. In 2019 his work was featured on BBC TV’s Front Row Late with Mary Beard. In 2017, Jensen instituted the tongue-in-cheek International Lego Classicism Day on 20th February every year, a day when international institutions and individuals celebrate the ancient world in LEGO®. So far, International Lego Classicism Day has been hosted by the University of Sydney, Macquarie University, the University of New England, the University of Adelaide and the British School at Athens.
Liam D. Jensen, gives a tour of his workshop and talks with the British School at Athens Director Prof. John Bennet about the origin of the Lego Classicist idea and how he creates the figures.
Jensen is an advocate for social justice and his work on the BCE is a deliberate attempt to make classics and academia generally accessible to everyone, no matter what their background, culture or gender, through the visual accessibility and almost universal appeal of LEGO® and the direct impact of pop-art. The LC Family aims for gender and class equality and cultural and ethnic inclusion, as it widens the definition of classics, history and how stories are told and by whom. As someone who is dyslexic and has had a severe debilitating chronic condition all his adult life (ulcerative colitis), Jensen has a real and direct experience of disability, struggle and exclusion from mainstream systems. This experience however, and the empathy it provides, inspires him to increasingly draw on age-old lessons from ancient history and their modern relevance, and to play with and celebrate life, community and connection.
Dr. Irving Finkel, Curator, British Museum (left) with Liam D. Jensen (right) at the University of Sydney, 2019. Photo by Dr. James Fraser, Senior Curator, Nicholson Museum, Sydney.
The growing BCE now includes over 130 portraits, and in December 2020, British author, actor and broadcaster, Stephen Fry became the 100th member, for his work on a series of books about ancient Greek mythology, most recently Troy, which make classics direct, accessible and engaging for everyone, especially because Fry is committed to producing audio versions of his books.