Local design to star in Cultural Olympiad event

Create 09, the first major Cultural Olympiad initiative, is under way with design firmly on the agenda.

Billed as The Five Borough Festival, Create 09 is an annual cultural festival held across the five London boroughs hosting Olympic events. It starts this summer and the organisers hope it will become a permanent fixture on the cultural calendar. Hoping to link venues, cultural organisations and other festivals in the host boroughs, the event’s organisers are welcoming the participation of designers.

‘We’re trying to create a multidisciplinary festival but make it like a farmers’ market, in that the artists and designers are sourced locally,’ says festival director Hadrian Garrard. ‘It should attract an international audience, like the Edinburgh Festival.’

The event will run until 2 August and see two commissions – winners of the Bank of America Create Art Award – on this summer’s bill.

Garrard describes this award as the biggest ‘participatory’ art award in the UK. A brief was set to involve local people in an active project and the two winning commissions will involve thousands of participants, including the police, local councillors and school teachers. Station House Opera, based in London E1, will stage Dominoes, an installation spanning the five boroughs and consisting of 50 000 breeze blocks, placed to topple in succession. The stunt will see the blocks fall across parks, playgrounds, industrial sites and bridges, and will require more than 1000 volunteers.

Garrard says Station House Opera is working to a ‘very creative interpretation of the brief’, which will be ‘next to impossible’. ‘There’s even a section where a breeze block falls on to a boat and travels down the River Lea,’ he adds.

The second project, Joshua Sofear’s Rooted in the Earth, will look to celebrate the achievements of local residents by sewing their names in ‘carpeted bedding flowers’.

Garrard is keen that the festival reflects design elements from other Olympic strategies. He cites Jason Bruges Studio and artist Martin Richman’s bridge commission for the Olympic Park, awarded by the Olympic Delivery Authority, as particularly relevant.

‘We’d especially encourage locally sourced design,’ Garrard says. He is keen to bring more design to the festival and is actively encouraging designers to get in touch.

Branding for Create 09 has been designed by Bethnal Green-based Multistorey. The consultancy was appointed by the Barbican – another partner to the event – which set a brief to devise an identity that could represent a broad calibre of artists, compete with other London arts festivals and have a local appeal in east London.

The festival is funded by the Arts Council, the London Development Agency and the five host boroughs for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Create 09 events:

  • Dominoes by Station House Opera takes place on 26 July
  • Rooted in Earth by Joshua Sofear runs until 2 August
  • World Cultural Festival in Greenwich is on 26 July
  • The Barbican, Theatre Royal Stratford, Whitechapel Gallery and The O2 will all be involved in Create 09
  • Events take place over the five Olympic boroughs: Greenwich, Hackney, Newham, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest

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