Why have the usual Christmas lights when you can do better and have an illuminated forest – an art installation which also celebrates sustainability? At Olympic Park a forest of 14 giant ‘Frozen Trees’ has sprung up, Created from 1,296 reusable and recyclable IKEA plastic bag dispensers, the illuminated “Trees” are planted in the southern end of Victory Park in the former Olympic Athletes’ Village. Designed by young Portuguese designers LIKEarchitects, the Forest was first installed in 2011 in the D. Pedro IV square in Lisbon, Portugal and has now been transplanted to east London.
The plastic bag dispensers are joined to lightweight metal frames, with white monochromatic LED lights are connected to triangular rings to illuminate the trees. Each of the trees are 3.6 m tall, constructed with three different diameters. The structures are completely modular, easy erected on site and dismantled afterwards so that they have virtually no environmental impact apart from the plastic pieces, which are themselves recyclable. Hopefully after Lisbon and London, the “Forest” will travel to different cities in Europe and abroad.
LIKEarchitects is a young Portugese architectural practice which has built a reputation for “experimental, provocative and innovative” work. Using installation, art and activities, they seek to engage the community in the innovative urban settings which they create. At Olympic Park, the lightening up of “The Forest” on 30th November was a festive community event with music and other activities.
Olympic Park is home to other illuminated artworks, including “A Place Beyond Belief” by Glasgow artist and Turner-shortlisted nominee Nathan Coley whose work focuses on how political and religious ideologies shape our built environment.
“A young woman sits in a New York subway carriage, a number of days after the terrorist attacks on the twin towers. It is early morning, and the city is grudgingly back at work. Like many of her fellow passengers, she is tired, emotionally fragile, confused and angry – still trying to come to terms with what has happened to her city.
A Sikh man sits opposite her, wearing a bright orange turban. There is a strong tangible sense of hatred from the passengers towards the man – a feeling of raw anger and disgust. The mans eyes are averted, the commuters stares un-replied. His head is bowed, he is sobbing.
The train travels on, stopping at the next station, the doors open and close, passengers get on and off. After a few stops and more torturous minutes, the man gathers his belongings and gets up to leave. Standing by the exit is a young black woman with a newly born baby. As the man approaches, he reaches into his pockets and takes out a handful of dollars. Without saying anything, he shoved the money into the folds of the baby’s clothes and exits the train. The doors close, and the remaining passengers burst into tears.
At that moment, the woman realises that for New York to get past the attack, to move on and rebuild itself, it has to think anew, it has to look again. It has to get to a place beyond belief.” (Nathan Coley, 2012)
Well done to the Olympic Park for doing something more interesting and artistic than normal predictable Christmas lights. Come on, Regent Street, lets see you take up the challenge in 2015…..