When London was announced as the host of the 2012 Olympics, I was indifferent. Six months ago as the event was looming closer, I was petrified. Now twenty two days before this THING begins, I'm finally ever so slightly excited. Not so much about the actual event itself but for the collective amount of STUFF that is going to be happening around the Olympics. This is quality journalism right here – THING, STUFF – words that convey completely lack of knowledge as to what is going on because I don't want to know until it all actually starts happening.
Part of the STUFF that is going on around the Olympics (and though I may not know much, I do know that there will be much STUFF), includes the London 2012 Festival, the cultural Olympiad that will accompany the games. The ever-excellent V&A of course has done their bit by unveiling the Britain Creates 2012: Fashion + Art Collusion exhibition, aided by the British Fashion Council. Nine British fashion designers have been paired up with nine British concemporary artists and the results all bring their respective disciplines and specialities together in cohesive pieces that thankfully don't feel like forced-fed commissioning.
Enter the exhibition and you're greeted by the opportunity to stand under milliner Stephen Jones and installation artist Cerith Wyn Eva's "Celestial Bonnet", a halo that subtly incorporates the five Olympic rings. Wyn Evans' lines of LED lights mirror the fluid and freehand lines of Jones' sketch. I like the looks on people's faces as they stand beneath it, stare up as if to say "W-O-W MAGIC!"
Jonathan Saunders paired up with the young sculptor Jess Flood-Paddock and together they threw a few of Saunders' jumpers directly onto the exposing plate to create two hundred screen prints on polypropylene. The jumper shapes are no longer discernable and instead, collectively these plastic panels hang on a perspex rod forming a bank of colour, changing as you move around it. From afar, it looks terribly precise and perhaps slightly sterile but upclose, when you see the texture of the screenprint, you begin to warm to it.
Nicholas Kirkwood's throught process of a shoe coming together or his interpretation of the saying "being up in the air" is interpreted thorough this "Dissecting Waltz" spinning installation together with artist Simon Periton. The shoe parts, contributed by Kirkwood are surrounded by cast resin scalpels, a recurring motif in Periton's work, looking like a viscious machine that is capable of both destroying and creating.
You could spot Mary Katrantzou's contribution a mile away as she paired up with the digitally like-minded artist Mark Titchner to create this upbeat video animation "Tint the Pallid Landscape (off to the wars in lace)". This curiously named video brings together Katrantzou's recognisable prints in a scrolling landscape together with Titschner's text which feels like motivational therapy. The words Strength, Courage, Speed, Power, Stamina, Agility, Resilience, Passion, Precision and Ambition are all deliberately chosen Olympic and Paralympic qualities.
Two Matthews came together as Matthew Williamson embellished a giant Mat Colishaw photographic print. Naturally Williamson gravitated towards Colishaw's minute study of butterflies. Williamson uses his signature modes of beading to pick out the iridescent scales of this broken butterfly, which is why it's difficult to make out what it is from looking at the canvas. The beading is especially effective when you go up close to it.
I really loved Hussein Chalayan and Gavin Turk's contribution to the exhibition. Together they created a track Four Minute Mile, a speed record that the British athlete Roger Bannister broke. The track begins with the pounding of running feet, the sound of breathing and Chalayan (who isn't adverse to a spot of singing/performing as evidenced from his past shows) provides the melodic echo to Turk's speaking voice as he talks about his role as an artist. This was the one installation where both Chalayan and Turk did something quite different from their usual practise. If listening to Muse's official Olympics song "Survival" makes you want to vom, then this is a brilliant alternative.
I think a great deal of people would love to see Giles Deacon and Jeremy Deller's jointly created running suit and matching train on an athlete in action. The stained glass window print was inspired by William Morris and the arts and crafts movement and the figure comes with a leather lashed staff and a crested headdress of leaves and feathers. It would be a magnificent sight to see for sure.
Peter Pilotto and Francis Upritchard took a different approach towards sporting and brought together Upritchard's use of human figures with Pilotto and Christophe de Vos' print and embellishment work to create this graceful figure arched into a yoga pose. The fishscale decoration comes from the duo's S/S 12 collection and when applied with a wild flurry of colours onto this figure of contemplation, the result almost looks like a religious relic. Furniture Designer Martino Gamper has also made an appropriate plinth for the figure, contributing to this trio of sculpture, fashion and furniture that sums up why discplines need to come together more often.