We stand in a time that is lacking in both finances and morality. The simplest of tasks such as watching the news seems deeply troubling. There is instability as we enter the electoral race and a towering prescience of instability, casting a shadow over society. We see knife and gun crime, sex offences and cruelty. London’s Mayor, Boris Johnson, has tried to steer our thoughts away from this and give us back some of the hope and faith we once possessed.

We are all aware of the upcoming 2012 Olympic Games, to which England are to play host. We will no doubt see great changes to our capital (city and money) during the preparations and construction of the Olympic Village. All leading to new facilities, new jobs and, by the time the games falls upon us, a large rise in the number of tourists. Some of the newly built facilities will remain whilst some have been designed to make it as easy as possible for them to become as non-existent as they are now.

The Mayor has commissioned the erection of a statue, an artwork to be built within the town of Stratford. There have been many an artists, sculptors, designers and architects entering the competition to create the piece. There were endless entries, most of the basic tower variety. The successful candidate was Cecil Balmond. He has designed a piece which is not limited by straight lines and right angles.

The mayor hopes that the ‘ArcelorMittal Orbit’ is to be “something to distinguish the East London skyline” He has made note of the fact that it may be viewed differently from one person to the next calling it “the Colossus of Stratford” or “super-sized mutant trombone”, even down to a “hashish pipe”. The truth is we all have our own perceptions of art. Some look at the Mona Lisa as an amazing example of artistry, others see it merely as a portrait of a rather dull woman.


Boris wants the structure to “leave a lasting legacy” to be an example of “design innovation and imagination”. Acting as both a “big vertical invitation” to the games and becoming “a permanent landmark” to “leave a lasting legacy” commemorating the event long after it has ended.

Just as the Atomium of the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair still stands, so too will the ArcelorMittal Orbit inside London.

The idea had first been pitched to the Labour government, although, at the time, there were neither the funds nor materials available for its construction. The Mayor has addressed the concerned, financially troubled public and put to rest some doubts. “You may think we are barmy in the depths of recession, to be building one of Britain’s biggest pieces of public art” but making us all aware that the materials were very kindly donated by Lakshmi Mittal. This leaves the erection of the statue possible without the accompanying heavy financial burden.

The Mayor, upon seeing the works of chosen artist Cecil Balmond could not believe “the sensational beauty “they possessed. He truly believes even children will show interest in this piece of “London art”.

The sculpture will stand an amazing 115 metres high and is hoped to continue to attract visitors long after the games are over.

Our country’s economy is left bruised and battered from the hands of a recession that is only as of late starting to slowly ease. Our political parties are locked in a battle for the keys to the door of Number Ten. We are overrun by headlines and broadcasts informing us of terrible crimes within our communities.

But by simply erecting a statue our mayor has not made us forget these problems, but for once possibly steer away from the British defeatist attitude and see a more positive side of life. Helping us to visualise our country’s chalice as half full as opposed to half empty.

We must not ignore the efforts of ‘the people’s politician’ Boris Johnson. Instead we must try to focus on the light he has provided at the end of the tunnel.

Granted the wattage of this beam of hope may not be enormous, but at least we can finally see it!

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