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In pictures: Transmission sculpture shortlisted for Olympic Park


The Mayor of London has revealed a shortlist of artists to come up with an iconic sculpture for the Olympic Park, including a 120m electricity pylon

Boris Johnson is planning that the £15 million work, said to be funded by steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, will be ready for the 2012 Games.

One entry is a 120-metre piece called Transmission by Paul Fryer (pictured), which resembles a giant electricity pylon. Angel of the North sculptor Antony Gormley and Anish Kapoor are also believed to have made the shortlist.

A spokesperson for the Mayor said: ‘The Mayor is keen to see stunning, ambitious, world class art in the Olympic Park and has been exploring the options for many months.

‘He is in touch with some of the best artists, prominent figures in the art establishment and philanthropists about taking it forward. The aim is that this would be funded privately as much as possible.’


Ian Ritchie of Ian Ritchie Architects, who designed the Spire of Dublin

When sculptors work at a monumental scale they usually come a cropper. Angel of the North is an exception.

All need an engineer, and architect + engineers tend to do better at big scale, though architect/artist/engineer is workable.

£15m is a vast sum for a single piece of public art – especially for the Olympic site where one would have expected there to be an ‘iconic’ memory created from one of: a) the Olympic Park, b) the stadium c) other Olympic venues (swimming pool, velodrome…).

Has there been a competition for the ‘flame’ holder?

Was there an open competition – including children and locals – to ask how £15m could be spent to help leave an art legacy of the London Olympics.

A stand alone sculpture seems somewhat out of place at an Olympic site, though an ‘art legacy’ of the London Olympics could produce something really interesting.

As for the one image shown to date – looks like a telegraph pole from the 1930’s on steroids.

Or, maybe the rejected version of General de Gaulle’s Croix de Lorraine!

Zoe Smith of Block Architects, who designed a 95ft pylon to promote awareness of climate change in Birmingham town centre last year (pictured above)

While we clearly do not own the copyright over electricity pylons, in conceptual terms, it is disappointing to see such a close resemblance to our piece of public art designed and constructed as a centerpiece for CABE’s Climate Change Festival in Birmingham last summer.

In contrary however, this proposal  is  insensitive in terms of design and scale and as far as we can see completely irrelevant to Olympic Park legacy. Was there any public consultation on this? I doubt it. We fail to see the artist’s point. The CABE Pylon was adopted as an iconic symbol of energy use, designed to be provocative and raise awareness of the issue of climate change. It was transitory and not intended as a lasting reminder.

We appreciate the drive behind an iconic sculpture for the Olympic Park, however given the present uncertainty over new venues for boxing and badminton, it seems a little hypocritical to allocate such funds to this.

Readers' comments (13)

  • And the significance of a £15m electricity pylon would be?

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  • Boris has been exploring the options has he.....might be nice if he let the people of East London get involved in the selection, since it will be on their doorstep?

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  • The link Unsuitable or offensive? seems to apply admirably to this topic

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  • It looks hideous. Reminds me of airplanes diving towards the ground. Wholly inappropriate and offensive.

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  • Oh my what a caustic bunch we are. Why do I get the feeling you guys have designed one too many dog pound? Or is it that you feel threatened by an artist designing a building? I think you might all need to go to the local pub for a bitching session and have a pint...of bitter of course.

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  • Again, one of Boris desperate move to get private money into the public realm. He's such an arrogant mayor who hasn't got a clue how to manage urban life. Of course at the same time, you see him supporting the private banking who dragged the whole country downhill. This guy needs another lesson or what?
    Wonder why people elected him in the first place?

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  • I'm sure it would be much more suitable - and appreciated in that trendy retro conservation manner - to re-build The Skylon?

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  • i hope this is a recycled one. no point in building a new one.

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  • The irony of them spending millions of pounds putting the old pylons through the olympic park underground and then spending £15 million on a new 'art' pylon is priceless!

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  • £15 million for PYLON..i hope this is 3D caricature for Halloween day..

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