Olympic tree's 'two-fingered' salute
Nick Clark is the arts correspondent of The Independent. He joined the newspaper in June 2007, initially reporting on the stock markets. He has covered beats including the City, and technology, media and telecoms and made the switch to arts in December 2011. He has also contributed articles to the sports section.
Monday 02 July 2012
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.
When teaching the meaning of Christmas backfires
Paul Scholes: Manchester United vs Liverpool - I don't understand why Brendan Rodgers was not more attacking against Basel
Jesus Christ plays for Chelsea - that's what one in five children thinks
Transfer Talk: Nemanja Vidic to return to Manchester United; Hazard to leave Chelsea; Sunderland want Radamel Falcao
Frank Warren column: Don't bet on Amir Khan landing pay day against Floyd Mayweather
Manchester United transfer news: Kevin Strootman move edges closer
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
New era of cheap oil 'will destroy green revolution'
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Ukip founder Alan Sked and Nigel Farage 'begged Enoch Powell to stand as a candidate'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant