Sculptor Ben Long compares his artistic process to playing with a Lego set – something he did a lot of growing up.

“You make something from Lego and you’re really happy with it,“ he explains, speaking from Bruce Castle Museum, the site of his latest work, “and you play with it for a few days but ultimately you’ve got to take it apart because you know that you need those pieces to make something better.“

Ben works not with stone or bronze but scaffolding and has created a series of animal sculptures each dismantled and rebuilt becoming more complex each time.

Having constructed a horse, stag, and dog, the Tottenham venue will be home to his most ambitious build to date – a nine-metre tall lion.

“With every subsequent sculpture there’s an improvement in terms of scale and the figurative quality,“ says Ben. “It looks more like a lion, it becomes more monumental”.

As with Lego, Ben follows a set of instructions, worked from scale models made in his studio and containing some 3,000 calculations.

“It looks like the scribblings of a mad man,“ admits Ben, “but actually it’s really the simplest way of doing it.
“On the full-scale sculpture, nothing’s left to chance, it’s followed to the letter. The actual making on site is not a very artistic process, it’s just labour, hard work and graft.“

Hard graft is an important part of Ben’s sculpture, something he experienced as a teenager working on building sites. It was there, too, that he first came across the potential of scaffolding.

“It was a way for me to get some money to go to art school,“ says Ben, whose father worked in construction. “It was very useful in that it taught me how to knuckle down and work very hard. I’d go home every night absolutely knackered.

“Art doesn’t just come from inspiration, it comes from working really hard. People might have the preconception that art is a very bohemian lifestyle where you maybe make a drawing at the end of the day and sell it for lots of money. Of course, it doesn’t work like that, it takes years and years of work.“

With only straight poles to work with, designing sculptures of animals, rarely geometric or angular, is a particular challenge, but the material has its advantages too.

“It’s a bit like drawing in a 3D space,“ explains Ben. “It is all line, you’re implying mass all the time. I’m trying to imply muscular shapes, so it looks strong and powerful. It’s a tricky thing to do.

“When anything goes up in London, people question its relevance. I’m making monumental artworks that don’t need to stay. They’re a kit, they get taken down. It’s reflecting how the city’s very fluid.

“That causes confusion with people. They see the hard work that’s gone in and say ’why would you want to take it down?’ My answer was always – next time I hope to make one that’s even better.“

Despite the weather, the construction of Bruce Castle Museum’s towering new lion will be finished in time for when the Olympic torch passes the museum on July 25 and in place until September 23.

Previous sculptures, sited up and down the country, are now no more, with the poles and brackets re-used in the next sculpture. But Ben thinks he might struggle to take down his lion.

"Usually it has to come down and that's that," says Ben, "but with this one I just don't know. This one is the one I'm most proud of and I think it's the best one. Always with the others I've thought I'll do better next time - I don't know with this one."

Ben Long’s Scaffold Lion is being constructed at Bruce Castle Museum, Lordship Lane and will be complete by July 20. Details: