Olympic tree's 'two-fingered' salute

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

 

There may be no Glastonbury Festival this year but the pair behind one of the event’s standout instillations will next week unveil their contribution to the Olympic celebrations. One that “sticks two fingers up” to the commercial side of the games.

Set design group Block9 has created the installation for the Tree of Light, a two year project that forms part of the Cultural Olympiad.  

The 16 metre structure, described as a “brutalist-generator-slash-tree hybrid” will be the centrepiece for several performances that involve 1,000 dancers and a choir of 600.

Gideon Berger and Stephen Gallagher are the creative team behind Block9, and have created works including a six storey replica of a London tower block with a derailed tube train crashed into it for their Block9 field at Glastonbury.

“There’s a side of the Olympics is high gloss, corporate sponsored, red white and blue, garish, commercial crap that you can’t move for. It’s soul destroying,” Berger said. “The beauty of this project is that it is unrelentingly sticking two fingers up to all of that and us expressing a different side to it.”

The Tree is designed to look like an overgrown concrete and glass industrial facility. “Both Steve and I like dark scary nasty things that are big and awe inspiring,” Berger said. It will have lighting and music effects from electronic musician Matthew Herbert and sound designer James Mather. The project was the brainchild of Henley Festival’s artistic director Stewart Collins.

Berger said it had been their most difficult project “with so many different people and organisations involved. With the Olympiad it had to pass over so many desks”.

The project, which was shipped from Block9’s East London studio on Friday to Oxford where it appears next week, was funded by the Legacy Trust UK.

“The axe was falling as we signed the contract so we were one of the last projects to have received a significant grant. The Arts Council grants are pretty non-existent following the cuts,” Berger said. “The only way to get significant projects is to be picked up by an institution, and other than that it’s festivals.”

Block9 hope The Tree of Life will raise their profile and attract more collaborations with organisations such as the Royal Opera House and the Bregenz Festival. “We’re very keen to get involved with opera,” Berger said.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence