‘WE’VE got the bricks. You’ve got the ideas’, ran the slogan from an early 1990s Lego catalogue. Someone who had an extremely good idea this week is the Salisbury Museum which, as a half-term exercise, invited children and a surprising number of adults to help them make a full-size Lego reconstruction of Constable’s painting Salisbury Cathedral From the Meadows (both on show at the museum until March 25).

Constable’s painting is, of course, a masterpiece. But the Lego picture is pretty impressive, too. The painting was first pixelated by computer, then ‘redrawn’ into 65,280 single Lego blocks. These, in turn, were divided down into a plan of 1,020 squares of 8x8 individual Lego blocks for participants to put together. This they did in their hundreds, starting at ten in the morning and the last brick being put into place just before four in the afternoon.

Standing back, it’s amazing to see how the bricks come together to recreate Constable’s painting. Up close, one gets a sense of how tactile the Lego picture is and there’s something in this that also echoes Constable’s work. You have to see that in the flesh to appreciate this: if you haven’t been to see the painting yet during its brief Salisbury residency, you really should.

I’ve always had a soft spot for Lego: growing up, I could lose myself for hours making models, usually strange looking spaceships and Star Wars knock-offs. I’m pleased that my own daughters have also got the bug too. For all the pushing of different branded sets (a Hobbit house here, a Batman set there), it’s the bucket of bricks and your imagination where the real magic begins.

The name Lego comes from the Danish words Leg Godt, meaning ‘play well’. The company was founded in the 1930s by Danish carpenter Ole Kirk Christiansen and to begin with, the company specialised in wooden toys: in 1942, the Lego factory burned down, destroying the company’s entire stock and all their toy designs. Christiansen started again, moving into plastic building bricks after the war. Even then, they took a while to perfect and it was only in the late 1950s that the brick design we know today finally came together.

Today Lego is big business – and it is also small business too: Salisbury is lucky to host We Love Bricks (www.welovebricks.com) the UK’s leading Lego rental firm; then there is Hampshire-based Bright Bricks, the Lego building company behind the Constable model. At a time when presidents talk about building walls between countries, using bricks to make pictures instead seems a far better way of doing business.

Follow Tom on Twitter @bromleyesq