There’s a wide range of imaginative and inspiring art and culture installations across the Olympic Park – make sure you take in some of the sights.
An impressive programme of permanent art commissions have been integrated with the high-quality British architecture, design, construction and engineering of the Olympic Park, ranging from bridges and underpasses designed by artists, to planting schemes, security fences and large-scale facades.
These projects demonstrate the ingenuity and imagination that artists have brought to the look and feel of the Park.
By integrating arts and culture into the Park’s public spaces, London 2012’s aim has been to achieve a unique area that will give existing local communities a sense of ownership, attract new businesses and create an area where new communities will want to live – as well as make east London a world-class visitor destination.
The Art in the Park commissions and projects have been supported by a number of funders, including the Greater London Authority, Arts Council England, London Development Agency, and Forward Arts Foundation among others. Some of the main installations are summarised below.
Internationally-renowned artist Monica Bonvicini was commissioned to design a flagship artwork for outside the Copper Box. Monica designed three nine-metre tall letters forming the word ‘RUN’, made of glass and stainless steel. In daylight, the letters act as a mirror, and at night they become more transparent and glow with internal LED lighting. Monica’s inspiration for the work comes from musical references, such as ‘Running Dry’ by Neil Young, and the many uses of the Park.
This major commission, developed by renowned British artists Ackroyd and Harvey, involves a collection of ten large trees – reaching up to 18 metres tall – planted to mark the entrances to the 500-acre Olympic Park. Three tree species will be in place during the Games and the remaining seven will be planted in legacy. Each tree will have a large ring weighing up to 500kg securely placed in the crown, with words and phrases reflecting the area’s local history engraved into them. Over time, the tree branches and ring will slowly fuse together, becoming a living memory of the Olympic Park.
The third in a series of commissions by a team of local artists and designers – The Klassnik Corporation, Riitta Ikonen and We Made That – Fantastic Factology is a series of plaques on benches distributed throughout the Park. Each plaque features a fact that was either submitted via a website or gathered through a series of local workshops. Nuggets of knowledge, from astrology to zoology, draw on the broad experience of the local community and global specialists from a variety of fields.
These striking and colourful artworks lining the Waterworks River reflect the spirit of the London 2012 Games, while accentuating the main river that flows through the Olympic Park. Their vivid colours punctuate this newly formed landscape both during the Games and in legacy, when they will be used for boat moorings. Both sculptural and functional, they evoke nautical way-markers, and have been made from the same durable materials used for navigational buoys.
The Spark Catchers
The first poem commissioned for the Olympic Park as part of the Winning Words programme, The Spark Catchers was written by local and renowned poet Lemn Sissay. Inspired by the history of the site, Lemn has written a poignant poem on the history of the Bryant and May match factory, which still exists on the edge of the Park in Bow. The poem is etched into a wooden structure in the north of the Park which will house one of the main electricity transformers.
The Fun Palace
Written by Caroline Bird as part of Winning Words, The Fun Palace is etched on the sides of the Olympic Park transformer enclosures. It is about the life and work of Joan Littlewood, who was the lifeforce behind Stratford East Theatre. Joan had wanted to build The Fun Palace – a ground-breaking, multi-creation arts and education centre – on the site of the Olympic Park in the 1960s. Although it was never built, it remains a source of inspiration to a range of people.
Find out more about the Winning Words programme, which is funded by the Forward Arts Foundation and Arts Council England.
Hackney-based artist Martin Richman has incorporated his artwork into one of the central bridges on the Olympic Park. Martin’s concept, which is inspired by the energy of the Games and the flow of the rivers that run through it, has been installed using different types of recycled glass.
Fast, Faster, Fastest
Jason Bruges Studio has designed an interactive bridge leading to the Olympic Stadium. The bridge will be lit up during the Games, but will be programmed afterwards so that the lights flash at the speed of the fastest 100 metre sprints, allowing visitors to race against the speed of their sporting heroes.
Download a map of the Olympic Park showing the locations of Art in the Park installations.