Art and the Olympics

Commissions for the Cultural Olympiad are unveiled

Today, the winning commissions for Artists Taking the Lead, one of the main schemes in London's Cultural Olympiad, were announced.

Each of the 12 commissions, worth £5.4m in total, was picked from more than 2,000 entries, and will represent the nine English regions and the nations of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Until today, there had been relatively little to show from the Olympiad, which has been criticised for lacking leadership and direction. But since the Royal Opera House chief executive, Tony Hall, was appointed this summer as the Olympiad's new chair, it seems at last some progress is being made.

The artists presented their winning ideas at the Oxo Towern, about six miles away from the Olympic site at Stratford. Among the most impressive and ambitious projects were Craig Coulthard's Forest Pitch, for which the artist will be "hiding" a football pitch in a forest, and Alex Hartley's nowhereisland. Here, the artist brings Nymark, an island he discovered in the High Arctic region of Svalbard, to the south-west of England. Some of the other projects seemed less successful, but they were at least far-ranging in scope (giant lion sculptures, bus stops and Lady Godiva, to name a few).

Sebastian Coe told the New Statesman that although the Olympics is predominantly a sporting event, the Cultural Olympiad will be one of the "most serious legacies" of 2012. "One of the accusations was that it [the Olympiad] was going to be the metropolitan 'elite' talking to each other, and it would be very narrowly defined . . . But we could not have been much broader in our approach, from the London bus stops through to the Leeds Canvas where you are using film, dance and theatre all within the same framework."

There has, however, already been a prolific response to the London Olympics from artists in east London. For an "alternative cultural Olympiad", visit the Wick Curiosity Shop.

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SRSLY #94: Liam Payne / Kimmy Schmidt / Mulholland Drive

On the pop culture podcast this week: the debut solo single from Liam Payne, the Netflix series The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and the David Lynch film Mulholland Drive.

This is SRSLY, the pop culture podcast from the New Statesman. Here, you can find links to all the things we talk about in the show as well as a bit more detail about who we are and where else you can find us online.

Listen using the player below. . .

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SRSLY is hosted by Caroline Crampton and Anna Leszkiewicz, the NS’s assistant editor and editorial assistant. We’re on Twitter as @c_crampton and @annaleszkie, where between us we post a heady mixture of Serious Journalism, excellent gifs and regularly ask questions J K Rowling needs to answer.

The Links

Liam Payne

The lyrics. Oh God, the lyrics.

The interview that Caroline mentioned, feat. Ed Sheeran anecdote.

Liam on the trending chart.

The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

The show on Netflix.

Why the show needs to end.

The GOAT, Emily Nussbaum, on the show.

Mulholland Drive

Lynch's ten clues to unlocking the film.

Everything you were afraid to ask about Mulholland Drive.

Vanity Fair goes inside the making of the film.

For next time:

We are watching Loaded.

If you’d like to talk to us about the podcast or make a suggestion for something we should read or cover, you can email srslypod[at]gmail.com.

You can also find us on Twitter @srslypod, or send us your thoughts on tumblr here. If you like the podcast, we’d love you to leave a review on iTunes - this helps other people come across it.

We love reading out your emails. If you have thoughts you want to share on anything we’ve discussed, or questions you want to ask us, please email us on srslypod[at]gmail.com, or @ us on Twitter @srslypod, or get in touch via tumblr here. We also have Facebook now.

Our theme music is “Guatemala - Panama March” (by Heftone Banjo Orchestra), licensed under Creative Commons. 

See you next week!

PS If you missed #93, check it out here.

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