The colourful strips used to cover the Olympic stadium at last summer’s games have found their way into the contemporary art world, by way of recycling. Emerging from the industrial landscape of Hackney Wick, gritty neighbour to the Olympic Park, the iconic fabric panels, which encrusted the stadium during the Games, have been re-used and transformed to evoke the breaking dawn by London designer Natasha Reid. With the stadium itself as the backdrop, this joyful art installation entitled “AfterParty”, celebrates the beginnings of the legacy of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The piece is the first of a series of artworks to be made from the material and was created in under a week following the closure of the Olympic site.
“AfterParty” is being exhibited until 28th October 2012 at Forman’s Smokehouse Gallery, found a stone’s throw away from the Olympic Park in Hackney Wick, with unparalleled views of the stadium. “AfterParty” is part of the group exhibition, Celebration: The Big Picture.Natasha Reid, who works between the worlds of architecture and art, has transformed a portion of the 25m long fabric panels using only a Stanley knife, a stapler and some string, in the first of a series of artworks which investigate the concept of an Olympic legacy and the future change it will bring to London and beyond.
The material has been cut into slivers, twisted and woven together, each piece like a brush stroke painting a sunrise in a radiant riot of orange, yellow and blue. Suspended high in the gallery, AfterParty conjures up ideas of a new day after the celebrations of the night before, the advent of the next chapter of the London 2012 Olympic Games now the euphoria has passed. The piece defines a space in the gallery where visitors can reflect upon what they think the after-party of the Games is, with a panoramic view to the very heart of the events themselves; the stadium.
“By embarking on this project, where the end result would be unknown until the opening of the exhibition I wanted to highlight that in a similar way, the legacy of the Games cannot be predicted until it occurs. The idea of transformation, of positive change, was very important and by re-using and hand-crafting a material from the Olympic stadium itself, the project aims to highlight how even small changes can make a big difference.”
The artwork itself was made and installed during an exciting and intensive week due to the timing of the Olympic site shutting down and the opening of the exhibition. Natasha Reid said; “It all had to happen at the speed of light; the designing, the making, the installation of the piece itself. I had ideas of what I wanted to create, but I could only really start planning what I was going to make once I had collected the material, a week before the exhibition opened. It was incredibly exciting with so many unknowns: Would I be able to cut the material? How I was going to fix it together?”
In the end, the final idea to depict a sunrise only arrived when Natasha laid the material out in her narrow North London garden and realised the blue fabric looked like the night sky, dusted with stars. However, the final piece not only reflects the concept of transformation, but also its form and texture expresses the specific qualities of the fabric, which was cut and shaped in a fluid manner, guided by what the material naturally wanted to do. Following the success of this first installation, “AfterParty” will transform, grow and adapt to future sites and gallery spaces, inside or outside, creating something totally new each time. Natasha hopes to create the subsequent artworks in collaboration with other artists in order to explore a range of interpretations of the concept of legacy and transformation.
Natasha Reid is a designer working between the realms of architecture and art with a particular interest in socially-engaged design and research. She is currently investigating the notion of valuing waste material as a resource, in a time of scarcity and rapid change. She has just been offered a studio residency at the new pop-up community arts project, The Albert, Queens Park, where she will be investigating the concept of “home” by creating experimental installations re-using waste material from the demolished council estates around the rapidly changing local area. Recently Natasha has been part of a panel and debate including some of the most distinguished British architects currently practicing, including Sir Terry Farrell and Tony Fretton as part of the London Festival of Architecture 2012 International Design Showcase at Ambika P3 gallery, London.
“AfterParty” forms part of the group show, “Celebration: The Big Picture”, exhibiting the work of twenty eight contemporary London artists, many of whom practice from their studios in the converted warehouse spaces that surround Forman’s Smokehouse Gallery in Fish Island / Hackney Wick. The artists were asked to creatively interpret the theme of celebration in their own artistic language. The show gives an insight into the underbelly of the contemporary art world emerging out of this previously neglected area of east London.
Forman’s Smokehouse Gallery is an art project space overlooking the London 2012 Olympic Park, and was founded to provide artists with a high profile platform from which to introduce their work to new audiences. With spectacular exhibition space measuring more the 600 square metres (660sq ft) and with an unrivalled view of the Olympic stadium, the gallery is situated on the top floor of Britain’s oldest salmon smokers, H Forman & Son, which was relocated to its new premises by the Olympic development. Each month, invited curators handpick artists from the local, national and international art community to create a dynamic and varied program of exhibitions.