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'Mind boggling' artwork that will tower over London

By John Matthew Hall

An artist's impression of Anish Kapoor's giant work of public art planned for the London Olympic park.

An artist's impression of Anish Kapoor's giant work of public art planned for the London Olympic park.

Plans for what will become Britain's largest piece of public art were today unveiled by Mayor of London Boris Johnson.

The Anish Kapoor designed tower will sit in London's Olympic park and, standing at 115 metres, will be nearly 20 metres taller than the Big Ben clock tower and more than double the height of Nelson's Column. It is being hailed as London's answer to the Eiffel tower and aims to make the Olympics site a permanent visitor attraction.

The Arcelormittal Orbit, named after steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal who is partially funding the project, consists of almost 1,000 tonnes of tubular steel in a continuously looping lattice which visitors will be able to climb. The lattice is made up of eight strands winding into each other and combined by rings like a jagged knot. It will have two indoor 984ft (300m) viewing platforms, and a visitor pavilion at the base will include an educational exhibition.

Lakshmi Mittal, Chairman and CEO of ArcelorMittal, will fund up to £16million of the £19.1 million project, with the outstanding £3.1 million provided by the London Development Agency.

Anish Kapoor said one of his design references was the Tower of Babel. "There is a kind of medieval sense to it of reaching up to the sky, building the impossible. A procession, if you like. It's a long winding spiral: a folly that aspires to go even above the clouds and has something mythic about it."

"He has taken the idea of a tower and transformed it into a piece of modern British art", said Boris Johnson. "It would have boggled the minds of the Romans. It would have boggled Gustave Eiffel."

Johnson also insisted the tower would be a money-making venture as well as providing a "perfect iconic cultural legacy". He said: "We think we will be amply recouped after Games-time from the proceeds of renting out a very attractive dining facility at the top. It will be a corporate money-making venture."

Baroness Ford, chairman of the Olympic Park Legacy Company which is in charge of development and legacy at the park after the 2012 Games, said: "When you are able to combine an industry leader with a world-renowned artist, supported by significant investment, we clearly see the significance of the Olympic Park.

London 2012 chairman Lord Coe added: "Our ambitions for the Games are very clear and very simple. We want to leave a lasting legacy - of more young people playing sport, of changing public attitudes towards disabilities through the Paralympic Games, of an extraordinarily transformed landscape in east London, in which this impressive sculpture will play a central role.

"The new sculpture will be an indelible memory, a declaration of legacy and a definable landmark that Londoners and people from around the world will enjoy visiting during the Games and long afterwards."

Tate director Sir Nicholas Serota plus Julia Peyton-Jones and Hans Ulrich Obrist, of the Serpentine Gallery, were among the advisory panel of arts and design experts. They were backed by the London Mayor and the Olympics Minister.

Public space at the venue will be on two levels with each level having a 150-person capacity. Designers believe the area could cater for about 700 people per hour.

The plan is for work to begin soon with a completion date of December 2011.

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I'm not a fan of modern art, so I'm biased, but
[info]davetaylor1 wrote:
Wednesday, 31 March 2010 at 03:40 pm (UTC)
I think it looks rather ugly. It would have boggled Eiffel, but at least I can look at his tower without thinking, "What the f**k!"

I will accept, however, that if this thing doesn't collapse it will be a wonder of the architectural world.
Any Old Iron!!!
[info]rassendyl wrote:
Wednesday, 31 March 2010 at 03:50 pm (UTC)
It may be OK in a cockney song but it looks like it's going to cost us all a load of money just to give Londoners something more to gawk at. Hope it's coming out of their rates and not ours. Another load of pretentious rubbish under the mantle of the Olympic experience.
I demand a tax refund if this "artwork" gets built.
[info]mr_recalcitrant wrote:
Wednesday, 31 March 2010 at 03:57 pm (UTC)
What won't, these autocratic bas*ards spend our money on?
Anish Kapoor isn't very good
[info]viaferria wrote:
Wednesday, 31 March 2010 at 04:14 pm (UTC)
I'd say that he's the most over rated artist represented by the Lisson Gallery and that he isn't very talented. I'd also say that this sculpture is repulsive. Ask Richard Wentworth to make something thoughtful and, I daresay, discrete!

I'll be able to see this horrid thing from my window! Ugh. The one thing worse would be to hear Anish talking about it.
Re: Anish Kapoor isn't very good
[info]merle2006 wrote:
Thursday, 1 April 2010 at 01:31 am (UTC)
i agree with you. i saw that giant red thing he did at the tate modern - he managed to fill the space but with red ugliness. why make it red? doesn't he know that red causes anger and discomfort (that's why red-car drivers have more accidents.) poor old stratford - it needs something calming and restful and beautiful and relaxing and elegant and symmetrical, instead it gets more of the same old discomfiting ugliness it's been drowning in for decades.

i think i'll stare at a bit of green or yellow before i go to bed.
Re: Anish Kapoor isn't very good - [info]viaferria - Thursday, 1 April 2010 at 02:17 am (UTC) Expand
I recognise that!
[info]iankemmish wrote:
Wednesday, 31 March 2010 at 04:17 pm (UTC)
The fine details may differ, but the overall concept is so obviously nicked from Tatlin's tower that it makes me ashamed to be represented by it.

If the "cultural Olympiad" is supposed to be London's shop window to the world, do we really want the keynote to be "plagiarism"? I know I don't.
Re: I recognise that!
[info]dydor wrote:
Wednesday, 31 March 2010 at 06:18 pm (UTC)
Exactly. Las Vegas on Thames. Lets have some Gondolas at Greenwich, tilt the Post Office Tower over a bit. Hey, this is easy.
Re: I recognise that! - [info]merle2006 - Thursday, 1 April 2010 at 01:36 am (UTC) Expand
Re: I recognise that! - [info]viaferria - Thursday, 1 April 2010 at 02:19 am (UTC) Expand
[info]cm999 wrote:
Wednesday, 31 March 2010 at 04:29 pm (UTC)
What a waste of �3m. I thought we were in a recession and staring the wrong way down a load of public service cuts? If so how come Boris has this much money to waste?
[info]pete_paraguay wrote:
Wednesday, 31 March 2010 at 04:30 pm (UTC)
You are a day early with this tasteless joke.
[info]phrage wrote:
Wednesday, 31 March 2010 at 04:31 pm (UTC)
my arce !
Fascinating structure at great value
[info]alex1aa wrote:
Wednesday, 31 March 2010 at 04:36 pm (UTC)
As well as being fascinating to look at, I think one of the most appealling things about this is that it's really doesn't seem to cost very much. It seems like a great deal getting ArcelorMittal to fund �16m of it, leaving only �3m to pay out of government funds. And that would be paid off corporate functions! In my view it is all the more satisfying knowing it really isn't expensive at all.
Mind Boggling Artwork
[info]hacdie wrote:
Wednesday, 31 March 2010 at 04:43 pm (UTC)
You just can't trust stupid politicians especially about art either public or private taste. They're just so gullible to any daft idea that any 'artist' comes up with. We've had dirty unmade beds, diamond encrusted skulls, shooting wax bullets in the Royal Academy. The public is gullible too.

This sculpture proposed for London must be the biggest scam on record and I agree with the one of thread correspondents that why should the public purse pay for such drivel ? Anish Kapoor could gild a turd and the fawning art-world would praise it on high. It's about time that the elitist art-world was dismantled, they're just extracting the urine !

Fire stupid Boris straight-away and cancel this ridiculous fake project !
Alton Towers?
[info]kodak321 wrote:
Wednesday, 31 March 2010 at 04:44 pm (UTC)
It looks like a modern roller coaster structure mangled...
'Mind boggling' artwork that will tower over London
[info]centralcomplex wrote:
Wednesday, 31 March 2010 at 04:55 pm (UTC)
Will the Mind Boggling wasteland, utterly devoid of plant life, go with it? Or did the artist forget that grass is green not gray?
[info]dogsolitude_v2 wrote:
Wednesday, 31 March 2010 at 05:30 pm (UTC)
It's utterly revolting, like something out of a horror/SF film... A mass of congealed blood and veins towering over a sterile, flattened expanse of concrete.

If this is an April Fool's story, then nice one guys: you did a good job of coming up with such a wonderfully foul design :)

Though given the paedophilic 2012 logo featuring Lisa Simpson and the lame clusterf*** that was the Millenium Dome I have a horrible feeling that this macabre waste of taxpayer money may actually be a real proposition, and that it will be terrifying small children from around the country for years to come.
[info]kryssordyl wrote:
Wednesday, 31 March 2010 at 05:58 pm (UTC)
How can it have two indoor 300m viewing platforms if it only stands 115m tall??
[info]katsmeat wrote:
Wednesday, 31 March 2010 at 06:02 pm (UTC)
Well, it's a nice memorial to British industry. I'd guess a condition of Mittal's sponsorship is that it uses his steel, shipped in from India.

After all, we probably no longer have the ability to make 1000 tons of tubular steel in the UK,
[info]jonty290 wrote:
Wednesday, 31 March 2010 at 06:07 pm (UTC)
I'm all for public art in principle, so this is especially disappointing. It looks like a dying monster. What a wasted opportunity.
evokes nothing higher or finer
[info]vhawk1951 wrote:
Wednesday, 31 March 2010 at 06:09 pm (UTC)
without wishing to be too churlish it evokes nothing higher or finer in me in terms of ideas or feelings

but it looks quite fun an a low level
[info]oomigoolies wrote:
Wednesday, 31 March 2010 at 06:36 pm (UTC)
Looks rather fun to me.
(no subject) - [info]vhawk1951 - Wednesday, 31 March 2010 at 06:37 pm (UTC) Expand
(no subject) - [info]oomigoolies - Wednesday, 31 March 2010 at 08:41 pm (UTC) Expand
(no subject) - [info]vhawk1951 - Wednesday, 31 March 2010 at 08:45 pm (UTC) Expand
(no subject) - [info]viaferria - Thursday, 1 April 2010 at 02:24 am (UTC) Expand
(no subject) - [info]oomigoolies - Thursday, 1 April 2010 at 08:40 am (UTC) Expand
[info]inexplicablelol wrote:
Wednesday, 31 March 2010 at 06:33 pm (UTC)
What is wrong with people?? This has to be one of the most hideous things I have ever seen. Its things like this that make me ashamed to be british. Whoever is responsible for this has absolutely no artistic sense at all. Where is the beauty? Please, oh please design something that people will go WOW thats beautiful. This country has been falling apart for the last 10 years and here is yet more proof of that, honestly, pathetic, utterly pathetic.
[info]inexplicablelol wrote:
Wednesday, 31 March 2010 at 06:38 pm (UTC)
If it does get built I sooooo hope it gets destroyed in 2012. lol
mind boggling indeed
[info]lborommewe wrote:
Wednesday, 31 March 2010 at 06:39 pm (UTC)
This may well boggle the minds of gustav eiffel and the romans because it certainly does mine. Modern art does not define or excite or represent the majority of our nation. What happened to diversity? why not have 3.1 million sculptures that cost �1 each? That would represent what is great about Great Britain today
this is labour's deal
[info]kensteven wrote:
Wednesday, 31 March 2010 at 07:18 pm (UTC)
The olympics minister is from labour govt and labour thought we could afford the olympics.
Blott on the lanscape - is the aftermath of an Islamic suicide attack
[info]saxontimes wrote:
Wednesday, 31 March 2010 at 07:25 pm (UTC)
What utter rubbish, it is an embarrassment to London and will make us the laughing stock of the world. Where as the London Eye is elegant and beautiful this is a Frankenstein creation that reminds me of a terrorist attack. But then maybe the artist was anticipating the inevitable.
I hope this is a joke.
[info]hackmuth wrote:
Wednesday, 31 March 2010 at 09:01 pm (UTC)
What a hideous and hideously expensive monstrosity.
Whats a Few Dead People
[info]ppprettypolly wrote:
Wednesday, 31 March 2010 at 09:03 pm (UTC)
Talk about fiddling while Rome burns. I think that filling in all those nice potholes and saving a few Olympic spectator lives driving around the streets of London might be a better idea than this so called art. What a total WASTE of money. Or does Boris intent to have an air funeral when he dies with his body slowly drying and dessicating atop this wonderful example and tribute to waste in an austere era. Who was Anish Kapoor anyway: why cant we have something that integrates our Britishness rather than eroding our culture further?

What a monumental waste -
[info]rutlandmike wrote:
Wednesday, 31 March 2010 at 09:10 pm (UTC)
on top of the rest of the Olympic waste. This will rank level with the 2012 logo as the ugliest bit of nonsense yet dreaned up for these 'games'.
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