London 2012 Olympic Park gets arty

Neville Gabie, artist in residence with curator Samantha Wilkinson on the Olympic Park. Photo: ODA/David Poultney

The London 2012 Olympic Park looks set to get artistic with the appointment of an artist and a curator to oversee creative projects on the site. Artist Neville Gabie has been appointed artist-in-residence for the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) for the next 16 months. He is also joined by Sam Wilkinson who will be acting as curator.

Gabie’s work explores the changing nature of places and the local residents who live there.

His previous projects include a three year stint on the Cabot Circus development building site in Bristol and a four month expedition in Antarctica. He has also travelled in China, western Australia and Pakistan as part of his work.

In his new role, the artist will be leading a series of participatory projects involving the Olympic Park’s workforce and local people from the surrounding neighbourhoods. Gabie will begin his residency will start by researching the site and the people working on it, as well as shadowing  jobs from the workforce.

Speaking about his new position, he said: “This project brings together things that I have long been passionate about – the diversity of community, engagement with people and place, and a shared experience of sport and play. This project represents a wonderful opportunity to develop my own creative practice and share that experience with wider audiences.”

Sarah Weir, Head of Arts and Cultural Strategy at the ODA said: “With the Olympic Park undergoing the ‘big build’ phase, this is a special time for an artist to be on site and get under the skin of this unique regeneration project.

“We were looking for an artist who would be able to respond to the physical transformation of this part of London, honouring the history of the past whilst also capturing the changing nature of the present and the aspirations for the future.”

Moira Sinclair, London Executive Director of Arts Council England, said: “Artists have a unique viewpoint on the world; they help us question and understand what’s going on around us, as well as reach out to people and stimulate new thinking.”

The project, supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, is part of the ongoing development of the area in preparation for the London 2012 Olympics.

Local Hackney artists are getting involved with the Olympic Park preparations in several other capacities. Hackney-based architects Studio Weave are collaborating with artists Nina Pope and Karen Guthrie to create an Inside Out Floating Cinema to screen films and act as a base for artists to meet local people.

Local poet Lemn Sissay has written the first poem for the Olympic Park, entitled Spark Catchers, which will be etched into a wooden structure in the north of the park.

Hackney-based artist Martin Richman will also be contributing to the Olympic Park. He will incorporate a commissioned work into one of the new bridges and underpasses being built on the site.