Tag Archives: sculpture

Looking down on the Olympic Park from the Orbit

Earlier today I was incredibly lucky to be one of the first people to go up the Orbit. Even before the Olympics has started, it’s already become one of the most recognisable structures in the Olympic Park, and is no doubt soon to become familiar to people around the world, as it’s bound to feature prominently in TV broadcasts from the park once the games begin (especially as there aren’t that many spectacular buildings in the park).

The ArcelorMittal Orbit

The Orbit from inside the Olympic Park

Getting in was no different to the procedure that would be familiar to anyone who’s been to a test event in the park recently – arrive from Stratford, and cross the road to go through the efficient and friendly airport-style security. Once through it was a short walk in between the Aquatic Centre & Water Polo Arena, over the river via footbridge, and there it was.

The Orbit from underneath

You can see the central hole in the viewing platform from underneath

The biggest surprise on arrival is that there’s a strange rusty iron bell hanging out of the bottom (the Guardian’s art critic described it as an arse – I can’t see it myself). Just behind that is a little structure that contains the lift the whisks you quickly up to the top.

The Orbit, London Olympic Park 2012

Looks more like a bell than an arse to me, but then what do I know, I’m not an art critic

On reaching the top I was delighted to see that you can actually get outside into the open air, with two little balconies on either side, one of which has great views right into the Olympic Stadium next door – good enough that we even got a little sneak preview of the opening ceremony, as we could see a little grassy hill with a tree on it at one end of the stadium (you can read more about that, and see where the tree will sit here).

Olympic Opening ceremony preview - the tree in the London Olympic stadium

A sneak preview of the opening ceremony – a tree at one end of the London Olympic Stadium

The viewing platform itself is lovely – wide and spacious, with fantastic views on all sides. We were lucky enough to have clear skies tonight (especially given how grim the weather has been recently), so we had clear views all the way out to Wembley and beyond. In fact, with the O2, Excel, and Wembley all in sight you can see almost all of the major games venues from up here.

World's biggest McDonald's in London Olympic Park

The world’s largest McDonald’s, in front of the (L-R) Energy Centre, Copper Box – aka Handball Arena – and International Broadcast Centre

The platform also had one other surprise – inside are two other Anish Kapoor sculptures, huge curving mirrors not unlike the C-Curve mirror that was in London’s Kensington Gardens in 2010.

Anish Kapoor sculpture in the Orbit viewing Gallery

One of the two mirrors inside the viewing gallery

The biggest surprise of the day was how it changed how I feel about the sculpture. Beforehand I really couldn’t make up mind about it. Now I’ve been up, I’m a total convert. To see it at close hand, from underneath, from above, from inside, and from the stairs on the way down, is to experience it totally differently from seeing it from far away. The shape curves and twists in different directions, giving a different view from every angle. It’s incredibly solid but incredibly lightweight at the same time, with the slender struts leaving plenty of room for views in between.

Looking down on the Olympic Park from the Orbit

Looking down on the Olympic Park from inside the Orbit

Most people I’ve spoken to up til now have been pretty ambivalent about the Orbit, if not downright hostile. Based on tonight, I reckon that’ll change pretty rapidly. It may look like a big red squiggle, but close up the structure itself is fantastic, and the views even better, and I think Londoners are soon going to grow to love it.

You can see my full set of pictures of my Orbit visit here.

The perfect autumn day

It’s been a pretty grim start to the autumn in London so far, which has been particularly depressing for me – I carefully planned my trip to avoid cold weather everywhere in the world so the impending winter will be my first for nearly two years – and then suddenly, unexpectedly, yesterday turned out to be glorious.

Now you may call me biased, but in my opinion there is no more beautiful city in the world than London on a day like yesterday. The blue of the autumn sky is deeper and the sun more gentle which flatters the city’s buildings far more than the harsher summer light or the usual grey skies. And not only were the skies clear, but it was unseasonably warm too – over 20 degrees.

Hayward Gallery

Hayward Gallery

Knowing it might be the last warm day of the year I rushed out to enjoy the sunshine and went for a lovely long walk through the city, starting out at London Bridge, wandering along the Thames, stopping off here and there along the way for coffee and to read the papers, but mostly playing with my new toy – my iPhone (when I left the UK no-one I knew had one and I vowed I'd never get one; by the time I returned everyone I knew did so I eventually succumbed) and the marvellous Hipstamatic app that produces lovely retro-styled pics.
View from the Golden Jubilee bridge

View from the Golden Jubilee bridge

Every step of the way and London was looking ravishingly gorgeous, especially all along the South Bank. As I crossed the Thames towards Charing Cross the sun was starting to dip in the sky and I suddenly had the urge to catch the sun set, so headed up through Soho, along Piccadilly and into Hyde Park. Suddenly it was like being back the height of summer – the place was packed with people eating ice cream, boating on the lake, showing off on rollerblades, and even sunbathing with their shirts off.

Sun setting over the Embankment

Sun setting over the Embankment

The highlight of the day was still to come though, for as I crossed into Kensington Gardens I remembered that the new Anish Kapoor installation had just opened. It consists of four monumental, stainless steel sculptures that reflect their surroundings, changing in appearance with the time of day and the weather.

Sky Mirror

Sky Mirror

C-Curve

C-Curve

They were all stunning. I think my favourite may be Sky Mirror, a giant concave circle that sits facing out across the Serpentine. But each is quite different and I’m going to have to go back soon to see them at different times of the day (especially Sky Mirror, Red – with the sun setting behind, it just looked black rather than its normal red).

Sunset over the Round Pond

Sunset over the Round Pond

Sunset

The last of the sun

I’d made it just in time to see all four before the sun shone its last rays across the Round Pond and finally dipped behind Kensington Palace. It was the perfect London day, and after a week where I’d been missing travelling reminded me how lucky I am to be living here.

You can see the full set of photos from my walk here (oh and yes, I know I promised posts on Croatia at some point…I will get there soon – hopefully before my next trip!)

Sculpture by the Sea

I’ve spent a fair bit of time in Sydney before, so there wasn’t a lot I wanted to see that I hadn’t already. But there was one thing that stood out that I wanted to give a go – the annual sculpture by the sea exhibition. It’s a huge selection of public sculpture, much of it site-specific, sitting all along the cliff walk between Bondi and Tamarama beaches (which is a walk worth doing at any time of the year, even without sculptures, especially as I reckon Tamarama is much nicer than Bondi anyway).

There must have been well over a hundred pieces in total – and with that number there are bound to be hits and misses. But luckily the hits outweighed the misses, and it was a lovely way to spend a morning before ending up at Bondi for lunch and a dip on the sea on my last day in Australia.

Some of my favourites were sitting in the sand on Tamarama beach itself – including a rather disturbing giant baby, and a giant pink diamond. Elsewhere I loved the series of fake directional signs (done so well that they seemed to be ignored by most people wandering around the exhibition) that were dotted around along the path.

Here’s a selection of some of my favourites. It’s finished now for the year, but if you happen to be in Sydney next November, it’s well worth checking out.

You can see all of my photos of the exhibition here.