Anish Kapoor to design iconic visitor attraction for Olympic Park

31 MARCH 2010

The ArcelorMittal Orbit set to become UK’s largest sculpture

Watch a webcast of the press unveiling of the ArcelorMittal Orbit

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson and Lakshmi Mittal, Chairman and CEO of ArcelorMittal, today unveiled the artist and design chosen to create a spectacular new visitor attraction in the Olympic Park.

Award winning London-based artist Anish Kapoor has been given the commission of a lifetime to design the spectacular new public attraction in the Olympic Park. The stunning artwork, to be entitled ‘The ArcelorMittal Orbit’, will ensure the Park remains an unrivalled visitor destination following the 2012 Games, providing the key Olympic legacy Mayor of London Boris Johnson envisaged for the East End.  

The breathtaking sculpture – thought to be the tallest in the UK - will consist of a continuous looping lattice of tubular steel. Standing at a gigantic 115m, it will be 22m taller than the Statue of Liberty in New York and offer unparalleled views of the entire 250 acres of the Olympic Park and London’s skyline from a special viewing platform. Visitors will be able to take a trip up the statuesque structure in a huge lift and will have the option of walking down the spiralling staircase.

One of the world's most distinguished contemporary artists, Turner Prize winning Anish Kapoor studied in London, where he is now based. He is well known for his use of rich pigment and imposing, yet popular works, such as the vast, fleshy and trumpet-like Marsyas, which filled the Tate's Turbine Hall as part of the Unilever Series, the giant reflecting, pod like sculpture Cloud Gate in Chicago's Millennium Park and his recent record breaking show at the Royal Academy, the most successful exhibition ever presented by a contemporary artist in London.

Anish Kapoor’s proposal has been developed in collaboration with one of the world’s leading structural designers, Cecil Balmond of Arup. Balmond, who trained and lives in London, is known for his innovative work on some of the greatest contemporary buildings in the world, such as the CCTV building in Beijing, as well as numerous Serpentine Gallery pavilion commissions. The two began working together on the Marsyas project in 2002 and have become renowned for their ambitious, large-scale public art projects

ArcelorMittal will fund up to £16million of the £19.1million project with the outstanding £3.1 million provided by the London Development Agency.  The unveiling also marks ArcelorMittal’s announcement to become a tier two sponsor of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, to support the infrastructure and success of 2012.

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson and the Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell agreed the commission in partnership with Mr Mittal after bringing together a panel from the art and design world to advise on a long list of proposals. Anish Kapoor’s team made an outstanding proposal that would be accessible and leave a fitting 2012 legacy.

Anish Kapoor said: 'I am deeply honoured to be invited to undertake this challenging commission. I am particularly attracted to it because of the opportunity to involve members of the public in a particularly close and personal way. It is the commission of a lifetime.'

London Mayor Boris Johnson said: ''Long after the Games are over our aim is to have a stunning spectacle in east London that will be recognised around the world. I’m thrilled that when visitors from every corner of the globe plan trips to our must see attractions they will now eagerly include the ArcelorMittal Orbit! It will be an internationally acclaimed family attraction and I would like to thank Mr Mittal for his generous support. Anish Kapoor's inspired art work will truly encapsulate the energy and spirit of London during the Games and as such will become the perfect iconic cultural legacy.”

Lakshmi Mittal, CEO of ArcelorMittal, commented: “The Olympic Games are one of the few truly iconic global events. I was immediately excited by the prospect of ArcelorMittal becoming involved because ArcelorMittal is a global company with operations in more than 60 countries. And as someone who lives in this great city, I remember the great excitement felt when it was announced that London had been selected to host the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. We set out to create a transformational piece of art that will be an iconic symbol for the Olympics and also a new landmark that will endure long after the Games themselves. Everyone at ArcelorMittal is delighted with the outcome of the ArcelorMittal Orbit. London will have a bold, beautiful and magnificent sculpture that also showcases the great versatility of steel.”

The attraction will stand in the southern part of the Olympic Park between the Stadium and Aquatics Centre and will open in time for the 2012 Games.  After completion, the Olympic Park Legacy Company will take ownership and run the visitor attraction.

Minister for the Olympics and London Tessa Jowell said: “This stunning structure will become a new iconic London landmark towering 115 metres into the London skyline. Alongside the Olympic Stadium and Aquatics Centre, Anish Kapoor’s brilliant design will be like to honey to bees for the millions of tourists that visit London each year. Having been involved in this project from the outset, I’m now looking forward to seeing it go from a great idea into a brilliant reality.”

Chairman of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), Seb Coe said: “Our ambitions for the Games are very clear and very simple. We want to leave leaving 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.

Margaret Ford, Chairman of the Olympic Park Legacy Company, 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. This visitor attraction will sit alongside our other iconic venues and, in animating the site, will encourage the public to use the park. This is a magnificent legacy asset.”

Advisory panel members Julia Peyton-Jones and Hans Ulrich Obrist of the Serpentine Gallery, said: “The success of Anish Kapoor's Marsyas commission Tate Modern in 2003 and his exhibition at the Royal Academy in 2009 demonstrates that his work already strikes a chord with many people. His close partnership with the distinguished engineer Cecil Balmond has created the exciting prospect of a sculpture to be climbed, an unexpected view of the city and a new place to visit and enjoy in London.”

Tate Director Sir Nicholas Serota, who sat on the advisory panel, said: "We are delighted that Anish Kapoor with Cecil Balmond will give London a new structure which is one of the most exciting new commissions of our time.  The collaboration between Anish Kapoor, Cecil Balmond and Lakshmi Mittal bridges art, architecture, engineering and business to produce a new landmark for London."


Notes to editors

1.    Anish Kapoor is one of the most influential sculptors of his generation. Born in Bombay in 1954, he has lived and worked in London since the early 70s. Over the past twenty years he has exhibited extensively in London and all over the world. His solo exhibitions have included Kunsthalle Basel, Tate Gallery and Hayward Gallery in London, Reina Sofia in Madrid, CAPC in Bordeaux, Haus der Kunst in Munich and most recently, MAK in Vienna. He has also participated internationally in many group shows including the Whitechapel Art Gallery, the Royal Academy and Serpentine Gallery in London, Documenta IX in Kassel, Moderna Museet in Stockholm and Jeu de Paume and Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. He represented Britain in the Paris Biennale in 1982, and again in 1990 at the Venice Biennale, for which he was awarded Premio Duemila. The following year he won the prestigious Turner Prize. He recently acted as Guest Artistic Director of the Brighton Festival 2009. He was elected Royal Academician in 1999 and he has been awarded Honorary Fellowships by the London Institute and Leeds University (1997), University of Wolverhampton (1999) and the Royal Institute of British Architects (2001). His recent major solo exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts in London (September–December 2010), showcasing a number of new and previously unseen works, attracted more than 260,000 visitors in three months.    

2.    The advisory panel, backed by the Mayor and the Olympics Minister, brought together highly regarded figures with expertise, experience and knowledge of the art and design sectors, as well as key personnel from the Olympic Delivery Authority: Nick Serota (Tate), Julia Peyton-Jones (Serpentine Gallery), Hans Ulrich-Obrist (Serpentine Gallery), Sarah Weir (ODA), Stuart Lipton (Chelsfield), Anita Zabludowicz (176 Zabludowicz collection), Michael Morris and James Lingwood (ArtAngel) and Munira Mirza (Mayoral Advisor on Arts and Culture).

3.    The Funding for the Orbit consists of a £10 million cash donation and £6 million in underwriting of capital costs which could be potentially recovered from post games profits.

4.    The construction of the attraction will be subject to planning consent.

5.    The focus of the London 2012 Games will be the Olympic Park in east London, which will house   the new sport venues and is located in the Lower Lea Valley - an area of great untapped potential. After the Games the area will be transformed into the largest urban park created in Europe for more than 150 years.

6.    The Mayor of London published Cultural Metropolis last year, which sets out his initial vision for the visual and performing arts, museums, galleries, archives, libraries, crafts, music and arts provision, the creative industries, heritage and tourism. To download a copy:

About ArcelorMittal

ArcelorMittal is the world's leading steel company, with operations in more than 60 countries.
ArcelorMittal is the leader in all major global steel markets, including automotive, construction, household appliances and packaging, with leading R&D and technology, as well as sizeable captive supplies of raw materials and outstanding distribution networks. With an industrial presence in over 20 countries spanning four continents, the Company covers all of the key steel markets, from emerging to mature.
Through its core values of Sustainability, Quality and Leadership, ArcelorMittal commits to operating in a responsible way with respect to the health, safety and wellbeing of its employees, contractors and the communities in which it operates. It is also committed to the sustainable management of the environment and of finite resources. ArcelorMittal recognises that it has a significant responsibility to tackle the global climate change challenge; it takes a leading role in the industry's efforts to develop breakthrough steelmaking technologies and is actively researching and developing steel-based technologies and solutions that contribute to combat climate change.
In 2009, ArcelorMittal had revenues of $65.1 billion and crude steel production of 73.2 million tonnes, representing approximately 8 per cent of world steel output.
ArcelorMittal is listed on the stock exchanges of New York (MT), Amsterdam (MT), Paris (MT), Brussels (MT), Luxembourg (MT) and on the Spanish stock exchanges of Barcelona, Bilbao, Madrid and Valencia (MTS).

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  • Art & Culture
  • London 2012