Art vs Architecture at the Olympic Park – Round 2

As I mentioned in my last post on the Art and Architecture of the Olympic Park I was lucky enough to have another set of tickets for later in the games so I would be visiting the park again. This time I was determind to find some of the art that I missed out last time.

I wanted to be better prepared so I went to the London 2012 website and noted down what the different artworks were and managed to decipher the map showing where they should be. I even marked them on the map I had been given with the Waterpolo tickets and had a post it note with the artworks on attached to it so I wouldn’t forget.

Again the ones I wanted to see the most were the History Trees, I find the idea fascinating. One of these is supposed to be by the Stratford gate so as we were going through I looked and looked but could not see it anywhere. Though I did get my first picture of the Stele.


Looking at Stele from the Stratford gate
Looking at Stele from the Stratford gate entrance


No matter I thought, we’ll go to the left once inside the gate and see what we can find as we hadn’t been that way last time. Time is quite tight when you are in Blue Badge Parking so last time we only managed to get to the Basketball Arena and back again in the time allowed.

This end of the park seemed pretty quiet and I was very hopeful, I knew there was perhaps another tree down at that gate. I didn’t quite get to the gate as it was at the bottom of a long slope and I’ve discovered that me and pushing a wheelchair up a slope don’t get on very well. I was also distracted by the engraved/etched/lasered words on the wood surround of an electricity transformer which I knew was an artwork but it wasn’t till I got home that I realised which one it was! It was ‘The Fun Palace’ by Caroline Bird. Yay another artwork seen.

One part of 'The Fun Palace' by Caroline Bird
One part of ‘The Fun Palace’ by Caroline Bird


By this time we were walking back round under the Orbit, you don’t really appreciate just how massive it is until you are standing under it. Does it count as Art or Architecture? and don’t you just wish they’d made it as a giant helterskelter?


Under the Orbit
Under the Orbit


The park was definitely busier than the last time we were there, I guess an extra 80,000 people using the stadium will do that. So it took a little bit of walking to find a bench to sit on to eat our lunch. Wouldn’t you know what I found on the bench ……. a ‘Fantastic Factology’ plaque, and quite a fabulous fact at that. Yay another artwork.


'Fantastic Factology' plaque
‘Fantastic Factology’ plaque


Our tickets were for the Mens Waterpolo Quarter Finals and we had a little wait before we went in which gave us a chance to have a good look at the building. Its quite impressive when you consider that its a completely recyclable, temporary building and it has an inflatable roof! Even the seats inside are rented so that when the building is dismantled after the games they can go back to where they came from. I also love the fact that this is the first time that Waterpolo has had its own building.


The Waterpolo arena at the Olympic Park
The Waterpolo arena at the Olympic Park


The planting all along the waterways of the park is really spectacular and I had a trip down to the waters edge to have a better look. As I looked down the waterway I could see a glimpse of gold in the distance, something to investigate at a later time.

Waterpolo is quite exhausting to watch mainly due, I think, to the humid conditions inside. By the time we came out of there we were both quite tired, we decided to go and have another look around.

We didn’t really get too far as we stopped for a bit in the middle of the park where a games maker came to chat to us. I asked her if she knew where the ‘History Trees’ were and she admitted that she didn’t. She did show us some pictures of what must be ‘The Spark Catchers’, she was very enthusiastic about it. So another artwork seen if only by proxy.

At that point I thought it would be a good idea to seek out the source of the gold on the waterway and luckily we were right alongside it. So here she is the Gloriana demonstrating what the Stele will be used for once the games has finished.


The Gloriana moored to a Stele at the Olympic Park
The Gloriana moored to a Stele at the Olympic Park


We were now really tired and our parking time was almost up so we decided to call it a day. On the way out of the park we walked under my most favourite part of a building there, the curvy roof of the Aquatic Centre. I have decided that from certain angles it looks like the saucer of the Starship Enterprise. How sad am I?


Under the roof of the Aquatic Centre
Starship Enterprise or roof of the Aquatic Centre?


Although I saw more pieces of art this time, well I was able to recognise them as art as I had done more research beforehand, I do wonder how many people even knew they were there. I do remember a couple of years ago a commission being advertised for an artist to design artworks to go on the sides of 7 of the bridges. I wonder if this fell by the wayside somewhere as I didn’t see any evidence of this anywhere.

Anyway in conclusion I am far more impressed by the architecture than the art and I think its influence will stay with me a lot longer.

What do you think? Have you been to the Olympic Park? Did you see any of the art I missed? I’d love to know if you did.







Jutta M Stiller is a wood carver and sculptor specialising in Netsuke and Couture frames click here to subscribe to her newsletter ‘Tales From the Woodcarving Bench’ .


This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing the photos. I remember doing the same thing at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Even though we live just an hour away, we still haven’t found all the art works that were supposed to have been created for the games. Perhaps a trip dedicated to an art-walk will help. Also, you carve beautifully! Keep the blog going.

    1. Jutta

      Hello Grant,

      Unfortunately I don’t have another chance to go back to the Olympic Park until they reopen it after the games which I think will be in 2013. I don’t know what they will take away or leave when they do this but I will definitely go back as soon as I can.

      Thank you for your lovely comment about my work :O)


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