A Starter for Ten: Cultural Olympiad events to look out for this summer

Ben Miller | 21 June 2012
a photo of people enjoying a boucy catsle with Stonehenge monoliths on it
Jeremy Deller's Sacrilege could be appearing in a park near you for the Cultural Olympiad.© Photo Jenni Davidson

With the Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival in full swing we offer ten of the best events and exibitions to look out for...


Kurt Hentschläger: CORE, Ironbridge Gorge, Shropshire, March 23 – September 30


Digital dabbling turns windows into a “weightless world” of computer-generated humanoid figures at the World Heritage Site, moving individually or interacting choreographically to multi-channel accompaniment in the historic Engine shop. This is a new work by the Chicago-based, internationally renowned Hentschläger.

Damien Hirst, Tate Modern, London, April 4 – September 9

The first substantial survey of Damien Hirst’s work ever held in the UK has brought together more than 70 works – including, naturally, formaldehyde phenomenon The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living. It may dominate the column inches, but there are plenty of other exhibitions worthy of investigation, including the National Gallery's Titian inspired collaboration with the Royal Ballet, artists and poets.

Jeremy Deller, Sacrilege, various locations until September 9

One of the best results of the Cultural Olympiad for our money. In case you hadn't heard it's a touring Stonehenge bouncy castle taking up residence in nature reserves, recreation grounds, playing fields and even the Bronze Age Centre, Flag Fen. What's not to like?

Hadrian's Wall Installation, Hadrian's Wall, Cumbria, June 21 – September 9

The 86-mile monument to the Romans in Britain comes under the scrutiny of New York collective YesYesNo. The installation is visible at several locations, as well as viewable digitally across the world.

Draw Down the Walls, Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast, June 21 – September 9

Working with a number of youth clubs, the gallery sparks debate about the city's controversial interface walls through visual art focusing on the communities either side of them.

Nowhereisland - various locations across south west England until September 9.

Alex Hartley’s floating island art project cum chunk of Arctic Archipelago, Nowhereisland, is floating somewhere off the south west coast this summer, with visits to secret coves and bays as well as ports and holiday towns.

It's the last leg of a long journey from the Arctic that has seen it become a nation that has attracted several thousand wannabe citizens and it is now accompanied by a travelling embassy. Catch up with it and find out what it’s all about at http://nowhereisland.org

Rio Artists Occupation London, various venues, London, July 6 – August 4

In a nod to the future destination of the Olympics, in Rio in 2016, 30 artists from the current and waiting host cities will spend 30 days doing their thing in London.

Arts and non-arts spaces – including the new Brazilian Embassy – will be used to make work held in streets, parks, galleries and on stage.

Adain Avion, various locations in Wales until August 11

How about this for an art project with an inspiring combination of futility and utility? Adain Avion is a mobile art space created by Spanish sculptor Eduardo Cajal from the wreckage of a DC-9 airplane.

Installation and performance artist Marc Rees is celebrating its 20th anniversary by touring it across Wales. Catch it at the National Eisteddfod, August 4 – 11.

Mandala, Town Hall, Birmingham and Nottingham, September 7-9

Enjoy the sights and sounds of classical and contemporary South Asian dance and music while throwing shapes shadowed by a futuristic 3D tracking system in front of Birmingham Town Hall and Nottingham Council House. Both will be turned into giant musical instruments to complement an army of leading dancers and musicians.

Mine to Medals: The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games Medals, British Museum, London, until September 12


Not quite as bespoke as the olive wreaths won at ancient Olympic Games, our modern medals remain the ultimate athletic honour.

The Olympic ones were made by former Royal College of Art Professor David Watkins, with the Paralympic gleamers made by Central Saint Martins jeweller Lin Cheung, their materials mined from the US and Mongolia before being struck at the Royal Mint in Wales.

  • Follow Culture24 for more Cultural Olympiad 2012 coverage throughout the summer and see Culture24 listings for more cultural things to do during the Olympiad Year.
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