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Countdown to London 2012 Cultural Olympiad projects in the South East

  • Date: 9 May 2012
  • Artform: All, Combined arts, Museums, Music, Theatre, Visual arts
  • Area: South East
Lone Twin and the crew. The Boat Project, Lone Twin, Artist taking the lead Lone Twin and the crew. The Boat Project, Lone Twin, Artist taking the lead, Photo courtesy of Lone Twin

With the launch of the London 2012 Festival programme at the end of April, we are getting closer to the one of the most exciting moments in UK history.

The London 2012 Festival and Cultural Olympiad provides people across the UK a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience and enjoy the richness of British arts in the world’s largest cultural celebration in history of the modern Olympic and Paralympic movement, celebrating Britain’s best arts and culture.

Although the London 2012 Festival, doesn’t start until 21 June, it doesn’t mean you can’t get involved now, as in the South East, we have a rich and varied assortment of exciting projects running right now and throughout the summer. They range from a whole gallery curated by young people to parties in five cities across the South East in honour of a unique yacht made of donated wood - all funded by Arts Council England.

The 4 May saw the launch of the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics inspired visual arts programme RELAY at Fabrica gallery, an Arts Council England National portfolio organisation in Brighton. RELAY is a programme of free contemporary arts events, exhibitions and performances taking place around the South East of England from nine visual arts Arts Council England National portfolio organisations.

RELAY celebrates 2012 games by using sport, art and location as starting points for a series of new artist commissions. The Fabrica launch will unveil the first commissions, a new film by The Otolith Group and an interactive sound walk from the gallery to Brighton Marina called Sea of Voices, by Leeds-based artist collective Invisible Flock and developed with University of Brighton students. Both will be on from 5 to 27 May.

RELAY will then move to Aspex Gallery, Portsmouth on 18 May with A Hundred Seas Rising by Suki Chan (later at Quay Arts), Milton Keynes Gallery on 27 June showing work from Stian Ådlandsvik, artist in residence at Stoke Mandeville, and Modern Art Oxford in July with John Gerrard’s Exercise presented offsite. New video work from John Smith and a new dance performance from Dog Kennel Hill Project will be at Turner Contemporary in Margate 1 to 17 June and at Stour Valley Arts, King's Wood Ashford 25 to 27 August. Exciting highlights include disabled artist/geologist Jon Adams’s Look About exhibition, which is touring the South East, documentary photographer Andy Hood's Gold Run exhibition at Wellington House Day Options Centre 24 April to 30 August, and a full-sized replica coach balancing on the roof of De La Warr Pavilion - an Arts Council England National portfolio organisation - Hang on a minute lads I’ve got a great idea by artist Richard Wilson.

Brighton Festival will see a number of the South East’s most ambitious 2012 projects as part of the programme. dreamthinkspeak’s newest work, a meditative deconstruction of Hamlet, The Rest is Silence, premieres at the festival and is on now until 8 June, as part of the London 2012 Festival. A second performance of ambitious musical performance Gold Run, a new work inspired by the return of the Paralympics to London 2012 after a 12-year ban, is on 21 May. The performance includes a 30-strong choir, original films and a giant sculptural head. A third performance of Gold Run will take place on 30 October at Chichester Festival Theatre.

On 7 May, our South East Artist taking the lead project, The Boat Project, from Lone Twin, one of Europe’s leading performance companies, launched their specially handmade yacht for the first time into the water. The celebratory event took place at Thornham Marina, Emsworth, where the boat was constructed and uniting thousands who donated personal pieces of wood and shared their stories. 

The boat will sail around the South Coast this summer, pulling into five main ports but stopping at dozens of cities and towns along the way. The first port is Brighton Marina as part of the Brighton Festival, from 19 to 27 May at Pontoon 6. The yacht will be moored in Portsmouth 23 June to 1 July as part of Portsmouth Festivities, in Hastings 6 to 8 July, in Margate 13 to 16 July, and in Milton Keynes on 19 to 29 July as part of the Milton Keynes International Festival. To see the full itinerary and programme of events, download their quirky free guide, which is packed full of stories, photos and information.
The South East’s flagship museum project for the London 2012 Festival is a new permanent gallery curated by young people, which opens on 23 June at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery. WORLD STORIES: YOUNG VOICES boasts an innovative reinterpretation and redisplay of Brighton Museum’s world class ethnographic collection of over 13,000 objects from Africa, Asia, the Pacific and the Americas. Young people of all backgrounds, aged between 14 and 25, across the UK have been working with curators, film makers, artists and writers to explore and reinterpret the collection. WORLD STORIES: YOUNG VOICES is part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad programme Stories of the World.

People across the South East will be able to experience a new Rio-style float and ‘bateria’ created with disabled and non-disabled carnival artists from the UK and Embaixadores da Alegria, Brazil from Blue Touch Paper Carnival called RIO COLLABORATION, as part of the London 2012 Festival. The collaboration also celebrates the handover of the Olympics from London to Rio for 2016.

The project brings together several disability groups from the Isle of Wight, samba partners from Horsham and Luis Vianna and Paul Davis from Rio’s only disability Samba School (Embaixadores Da Alegria) to create a special St George and the Dragon themed carnival presentation. The procession premieres at The Arts Parade in Ryde on 30 June. It will then be shown in Horsham and Hackney as part of the Olympic Torch celebrations.

London 2012 Festival, a spectacular 12-week nationwide celebration from 21 June to 9 September 2012, bringing together leading artists from across the world with the very best from the UK. For more information, see