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’ .


How can the success of the British Cycling team at the Olympics help my woodcarving?

The Velodrome at the Olympic Park
The beautiful Velodrome at the Olympic Park

Sitting watching the BBC Breakfast Olympic coverage the other morning I was not expecting to get a lesson in business over my bowl of porridge, least of all from David Brailsford Performance Director of British Cycling and General Manager of Team Sky.

As he was being interviewed in the Olympic Velodrome he was asked how he made the British Cycling team so very successful, not only at the Olympics but also at the Tour de France.

It was his answers that made me prick up my ears and gave me that, as Gru would say, ‘Liiight Buulb’ moment (yes I have just seen Despicable Me the other night!).

Don’t get me wrong he didn’t say anything I haven’t heard or read before, it’s just that finally it has sunk in. Its funny how the same thing said in a slightly different way or context can really make it hit home. Or is it just I am finally ready to hear it?

He said that what they did was they figured out what it was they wanted to achieve, what they wanted to win and when the race would be i.e. gave themselves a date to aim for. They then looked at where they were today and made a plan to get from now to then and implemented it.

He also pointed out that its not a case of making massive changes across the board but breaking down the whole and making small changes of maybe 1% on each bit. Then when you put all the pieces back together you have got a massive increase.

The most interesting thing he said is that you can’t aim to achieve loads of things, you have to pick one thing/event to aim for and focus on that.

If you think about it what he is saying is spot on and is a technique that, I think, will apply itself to more or less everything from sport to business.

In a nutshell decide what you want, when you want to get there by, focus on that and don’t try to split yourself across lots of things, make a plan and follow it.

Sounds simple enough eh?

Is this something that you could use? I’d love to know what you think.

As for me, I’m off now to work out my plan as who am I to argue with someone so successful?

First things first though……. I need to decide what I want….. Watch this space…..








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’ .


Art or Architecture? Where is the inspiration in the Olympic Park?

'Run' designed by Monica Bonvicini
‘Run’ designed by Monica Bonvicini

I was lucky enough to get tickets to see the womens basketball on the first full day of the Olympics last Saturday.

During my research for the day I discovered that there are art and culture installations within the Olympic Park. Now I may well have done my research very late at night, or when I was quite tired but I just didn’t read through all the explanations on what the art was and where it was, I thought it would be quite obvious and easily seen. Ahem.

Walking into the Olympic Park is quite an overwhelming experience, you hear on the TV how big the place is and they try to show the scale of it but until you are standing there you don’t quite realise how vast it is. Everything is so spaced out and the walkways are very wide so you can miss some of the detail of the place as you are trying to get to where you need to go in time.

The only piece that I saw, realised was an artwork and got a picture of was ‘Run’ designed by Monica Bonvicini which is outside one of the venues the ‘Copper Box’. It is a massive structure but as I was walking down the middle of the very wide walkway pushing a wheelchair I have to say I almost missed it! I managed to stop to get this picture, which looking at it now doesn’t really show the massive size, but believe me it is very tall and very shiny and actually quite impressive. It is made of steel and glass which acts as a mirror in the daytime, as seen here, and at night glows with internal LED lights.

Having just gone onto the London 2012 website to see what else there was I have realised that I did see another of the installations without realising it was an art work. I thought that they were giant colourful pencils on the edges of the waterways, well thats what the shape suggested to me, in fact they are called ‘Steles’.  I am very fortunate in that I have got another chance to visit the Olympic Park later on in the games so I will get a photo of them then.

One thing that I did look out for but didn’t see, is something called ‘History Trees’, by Ackroyd and Harvey, where large trees have been planted by the three entrances. They sound like they would be quite interesting to see but actually will be more interesting over time as each tree will have a large ring secured into the crown which in time will be ‘grown over’ by the tree. I’ll have a look for these next time too.


To be honest I was much more inspired by the buildings than by the artwork. As you walk in and out through the Stratford Gate you can walk under the beautiful roof of the Aquatic Centre, I was not the only person who stopped to take a picture of this, the way it curves round is gorgeous. Having had a quick look on the internet I cannot find what this part of the roof is made of and sitting here right now I can’t remember what I thought it was when I stood there, it could well be wood. You feel like you want to reach out and stroke it. If you do walk under it just make sure that you do look up.


Underside of the Aquatic Centre roof
The beautiful underside of the Aquatic Centre roof


I absolutely love the Basketball Arena, my destination for what I was going to watch, you can see it from quite a way away which is very helpful. From a distance it looks like it is perched on top of a mound of trees, which it isn’t, but it makes you think as you walk towards it. For some reason it reminds me of a meringue, any guesses as to why? It looks almost like it is trying to burst out of the roof covering. The white plastic covering is also used for light shows, I’ll bet it looks amazing though I haven’t seen it. This is one of the buildings that will be dismantled after the games and its parts hopefully reused elsewhere or recycled.


The meringue like Basketball Arena
The meringue like Basketball Arena


I’m not quite sure how or even if this experience will inspire me with the work that I am doing, I am still trying to process what I have seen and what I felt. Only time will tell if it comes out in my work or not. Though I am sure of one thing, I was definitely more impressed with the architecture than the art.

If you are going to the Olympic Park, or even if you’re not, and would like to know what to look out for you can find out about the Art in the Park here and if you would like to know more about any of the Olympic venues and buildings you can find out about those here.

Have you been lucky enough to see the Olympic Park? What did you think? Do you think that the buildings are more inspiring than the art? Did you manage to spot any of the art?

I’d really love to know what you think……





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’ .