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Oh Danny Boy! Make Large-Scale Art Part of UK Culture

Posted: 03/08/2012 00:00

"He is spending the day sleeping," - the statement from a LOCOG spokeswoman when asked about Danny Boyle's whereabouts, the morning after the acclaimed Olympics Opening Ceremony.

No doubt Boyle's daytime dreams were filled with a mass of Mary Poppins figures, winged luminescent cyclists, smock-wearing farmers and giant flaming Olympic rings.

Arising from a well-deserved rest, the man of the cultural moment would have opened his paper to a flurry of tributes, praising his journey from fantastical vision to jaw-dropping reality.

"I think we knocked the spots off Beijing. I was crying like a baby," exuded London Mayor Boris Johnson.

"The first knight of these games, arise Sir Danny Boyle," exclaimed Gary Lineker.

ceremony

The Olympic rings light up the stadium during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games

When theatre hits the spot, I get the prickling of goose bumps, spine tingling down the back, and - if a show really goes for the jugular - a lump in the throat. The opening ceremony gave me all three as the explosive combination of thousands of performers, epic-scale acrobatics, pyrotechnics and story-telling showed the world something it had not seen before.

The ceremony was more than the beginning of the Olympics games, it was a reminder of the true value of arts and culture in the UK.

Perhaps the international wave of accolades for Boyle's work is a message - the most effective way to bring the UK together in celebration of art and culture is this mantra: the bigger the better.

Large-scale art has been an increasing feature on our TV and computer screens. Belfast performed their very own outdoor spectacle at the beginning of July, with a colourful contribution to the Culture Olympiad - 'The Land of Giants' combined industrial cranes, aerial stunts, fireworks, music and dance, to an audience of 18,000 on the Titanic Slipways.


land of giants

The Land of Giants on the Titanic Slipways, Belfast


Creative company Artichoke have specialised in breathtaking epic outdoor Arts since 2005, bringing us events such as the 42-tonne The Sultan's Elephant and the 50-foot high mechanical spider in La Machine.


artichokesplit

Large-scale art involving Artichoke: (L-R) The Sultan's Elephant, a giant marionette of a little girl, giant mechanical spider La Machine


Like Boyle's vision, the work of Artichoke is creatively risky to say the least, something worthy of gold star awards, according to Martin Roth, Director of the V&A. Writing in the Evening Standard this week, Roth believes that "in the context of art, culture and design... risk plays a critical role in fostering innovation and creativity... without risk, and risk-takers, we lose 'the cutting edge', we lose breakthroughs."

The positives of risky crowd-pleasing events aside, there is the rather glaring issue of cost. Despite artists being paid just £1, including Sir Paul McCartney, the opening ceremony came at a whopping price tag of £27million, a fact that is hard to swallow for some.

Sam Leith of the Evening Standard wrote of the ceremony: " 'You can't put a price on inspiration' they'll say, the mouth-flapping dumboes. But actually: yes, you can. If you can put a price on human life... you can put a price on inspiration."

Why should eight-figure bills be the only option for Boyle-style shows? In the spirit of austerity, we should look to other ways to create spectacular large-scale events with a smaller price tag.

Here's a money-saving suggestion: all the film and TV production companies should take a long hard look in their wardrobes, blow the dust off the shelves and see what costumes, puppets, props and equipment is no longer of use to them, then donate it to Arts organisations, with the intention of creating low-cost outdoor events.

Surely Pinewood studios could let us have a few alien costumes from their recent production of Prometheus - and there must be an unwanted stunt zip wire lying around the 007 stage?

Perhaps Boyle could be a zero-fee creative consultant on such an undertaking?

We should let Danny sleep off the Olympic fever before he gets to work...

Click below for some of the best pictures from the Olympics Opening Ceremony:

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  • London Olympic Games - Day 0

    Team GB, led by flagbearer Sir Chris Hoy, enter the stadium during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London.

  • 2012 Olympic Games - Opening Ceremony

    LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: Chris Hoy of the Great Britain Olympic cycling team carries his country's flag during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

  • London Olympic Games - Day 0

    Great Britain's Chris Hoy carries the flag during the Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London.

  • Artists perform during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London

    Artists perform during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London

  • Actors playing nurses perform during the

    Actors playing nurses perform during the Great Ormond Street Hospital scene during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic Stadium in London. AFP PHOTO / JEWEL SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/GettyImages)

  • London Olympic Games - Day 0

    Performers during the Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London.

  • London Olympic Games - Day 0

    A scene during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London.

  • London Olympic Games - Day 0

    The Olympic Rings during the Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London.

  • London Olympic Games - Day 0

    A scene during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London.

  • Aerial view shows the people parachuting

    Aerial view shows the people parachuting (upper L) above the Olympic Stadium during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012. AFP PHOTO / ALBERTO PIZZOLI (Photo credit should read ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/GettyImages)

  • PICTURE TAKEN WITH A ROBOTIC CAMERA Acto

    PICTURE TAKEN WITH A ROBOTIC CAMERA Actors wait for the beginning of the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in London on July 27, 2012. AFP PHOTO / FRANCOIS-XAVIER MARIT (Photo credit should read FRANCOIS XAVIER MARIT/AFP/GettyImages)

  • 2012 Olympic Games - Opening Ceremony

    LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: Performers depict a traditional view of the English countryside during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

  • 2012 Olympic Games - Opening Ceremony

    LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: Performers depict a traditional view of the English countryside during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

  • 2012 Olympic Games - Opening Ceremony

    LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: Frank Turner performs during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

  • Actors wait for the beginning of the ope

    Actors wait for the beginning of the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in London on July 27, 2012. AFP PHOTO / SAEED KHAN (Photo credit should read SAEED KHAN/AFP/GettyImages)

  • 2012 Olympic Games - Opening Ceremony

    LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: Performers depict a traditional view of the English countryside during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

  • 2012 Olympic Games - Opening Ceremony

    LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: Performers depict a traditional view of the English countryside during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

  • PICTURE TAKEN WITH A ROBOTIC CAMERA Acto

    PICTURE TAKEN WITH A ROBOTIC CAMERA Actors wait for the beginning of the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in London on July 27, 2012. AFP PHOTO / ANTONIN THUILLIER (Photo credit should read ANTONIN THUILLIER/AFP/GettyImages)

  • London Olympic Games - Day 0

    Sheep graze during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London.

  • London Olympic Games - Day 0

    The scene during the pre-show before the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London.

  • London Olympic Games - Day 0

    A game of cricket is played by performers during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London.

  • An actor tends sheep during the pre-show prior to the Opening Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Friday, July 27, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

  • 2012 Olympic Games - Opening Ceremony

    LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: Guitarist Frank Turner performs during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

  • 2012 Olympic Games - Opening Ceremony

    LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: Cricketers play cricket on the pitch during the preshow prior to the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

  • Actors stand under the rain during the B

    Actors stand under the rain during the British meadow scene prior the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London. AFP PHOTO / LEON NEAL (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/GettyImages)

  • London Olympic Games - Day 0

    Danny Boyle speaks during the Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London.

  • An actor walks during the British meadow

    An actor walks during the British meadow scene prior the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London. AFP PHOTO / LEON NEAL (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Actors play cricket during the British m

    Actors play cricket during the British meadow scene prior the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London. AFP PHOTO / LEON NEAL (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/GettyImages)

  • London Olympic Games - Day 0

    The scene during the pre-show before the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London.

  • London Olympic Games - Day 0

    The scene during the pre-show before the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London.

  • London Olympic Games - Day 0

    Fans shelter from the rain during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London.

  • Britain's Prince Charles, left, and his wife Camila, Duchess of Cornwall arrive for the Opening Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Friday, July 27, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

  • London Olympic Games - Day 0

    Industrial workers in a scene during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London.

  • London Olympic Games - Day 0

    Industrial workers in a scene during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London.

  • An actor dressed to resemble Britain's Q

    An actor dressed to resemble Britain's Queen Elizabeth II parachutes from a helicopter over the stadium during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in London on July 27, 2012. AFP PHOTO / OLIVIER MORIN (Photo credit should read OLIVIER MORIN/AFP/GettyImages)

  • 2012 Olympic Games - Opening Ceremony

    LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: Giant puppets depict villainous characters from British literature during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)

  • Actors playing nurses attend to children

    Actors playing nurses attend to children in hospital beds during the Great Ormond Street Hospital scene in the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in London on July 27, 2012. AFP PHOTO / CHRISTOPHE SIMON (Photo credit should read CHRISTOPHE SIMON/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Actors and dancers play Great Ormond Str

    Actors and dancers play Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital staff and patients during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London. AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/GettyImages)

  • 2012 Olympic Games - Opening Ceremony

    LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: A general view of the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

  • 2012 Olympic Games - Opening Ceremony

    LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: Performers depict a view of the Industrial Revolution during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

  • London Olympic Games - Day 0

    Sir Kenneth Brannagh recites Shakespeare during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London.

  • 2012 Olympic Games - Opening Ceremony

    LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: David Beckham passes under Tower Bridge driving a speedboat named 'Max Power' which carries the Olympic Torch with its torchbearer on July 27, 2012 in London, England. Athletes, heads of state and dignitaries from around the world have gathered in the Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremony of the 30th Olympiad. London plays host to the 2012 Olympic Games which will see 26 sports contested by 10,500 athletes over 17 days of competition. (Photo by Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images)

  • 2012 Olympic Games - Opening Ceremony

    LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: Children representing the Great Ormond Street Hospital, the NHS and children literature take part in the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

  • Artists perform during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London

    Artists perform during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London

  • Artists perform during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London

    Artists perform during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London

  • Artists perform during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London

    Artists perform during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London

  • Artists perform during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London

    Artists perform during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London

  • Artists perform during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London

    Artists perform during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London

  • Artists perform during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London

    Artists perform during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London

  • Artists perform during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London

    Artists perform during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London

  • London Olympic Games

    The history of Great Britain played during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London.

 

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