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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Extras
indybest
News
peopleLiam Williams posted photo of himself dressed as Wilfried Bony
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice finalists Mark Wright and Bianca Miller
tvBut who should win The Apprentice?
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick