· Tens of thousands of spectators came together today to celebrate the anniversary of London 2012, and public opening of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
· Programme of music, food, theatre and more produced by Barbican and Create London delights visitors of all ages
· Artists Bompas & Parr will leave lasting impression as their dramatic music and light festival finale set to turn the River Lea striking fluorescent emerald green
Tens of thousands of people today descended on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park for the first day of Open East Festival, a weekend of music, food, theatre and entertainment to celebrate the anniversary of London 2012 and public opening of the park. Musicians from as far afield as Columbia, The Congo, Jamaica and Mali joined local performers including Hackney Colliery Band, whilst top BMX stunt riders demonstrated their impressive skills against the iconic backdrop of the velodrome, and Sacrilege, a life-size bouncy-castle replica of Stonehenge by four-time Turner Prize winner Jeremy Deller entertained children and adults alike.
On both Saturday and Sunday the Open East Festival will culminate in Chromatopsia: A Water Symphony, a mesmerising and surprise commission by artists Bompas & Parr, turning the River Lea emerald green to the delight of the crowds gathered around its banks. At 9.30pm festival goers will be surprised by the sounds of a hypnotic soundscape of water music from a Glass Harp, drawing together contributions by the public recorded throughout the day, which will provide the perfect accompaniment to the glowing emerald green river running through the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. It will be created using a combination of safe fluorescein light reactive dye administered by boats and blue lighting. Chromatopsia explores themes of light, sound, colour, liquid and movement and celebrates the river’s place at the heart of London’s newest park.
Chromatopsia was developed in collaboration with the Barbican, Create London, the London Legacy Development Corporation, the Environment Agency and the Canal & River Trust. Bompas & Parr worked closely with Professor John Girkin, Director of Biophysical Sciences Institute at Durham University, in developing the technique and light response of the dye.
Bompas & Parr, named by The Independent as ‘one of the 15 people who will define the future of arts in Britain’, are famed for their innovative commissions, which have seen them install a tutti-frutti boating lake at Kew Garden, put a crazy golf course on the roof of Selfridges, London and create a walk-in cloud of breathable gin and tonic cocktail.
Sam Bompas of Bompas & Parr said: “The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park landscape is the inspiration for this interventionist artwork, a piece that highlights the natural beauty of one of its key focal points – the River Lea, with the green echoing the ecological credentials of the park.”
Boris Johnson, Mayor of London said: “Our cultural celebrations added to the magic of the London 2012 Games and the fabulous line up at Open East is another high point for this summer’s events in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. With great music, live performance, good food, as well a few surprises, it shows the promise of the park as a future destination for Londoners and tourists alike.”
Hadrian Garrard, Director, Create London, said: “Open East Festival has seen the Olympic spirit return as tens of thousands of people have come together to enjoy the very best music, theatre, food and entertainment from around the world. Bompas & Parr’s unique commission has created yet another lasting memory in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, one of many more to come as Open East marks the public opening of this much-loved space.”
Louise Jeffreys, Director of Programming, Barbican, said: “Louise Jeffreys, Director of Programming, Barbican, said: “This Bompas & Parr commission is a fitting finale to Open East Festival, spectacularly showcasing the River Lea to celebrate London’s newest park opening its gates to the public. Open East Festival has given tens of thousands of visitors the chance to experience the north of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park at its best with a packed programme featuring the best in international and local music, food, theatre, and art.”
Dennis Hone, Chief Executive of the London Legacy Development Corporation said: “Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park will be a dynamic and exciting place with art, culture and creativity alongside sport and leisure. It’s fantastic that on the anniversary of the Olympic Games the Open East Festival will showcase world-class artists while the Stadium sees the world’s top athletes back on the track. We are set to deliver a brilliant new cultural and sporting destination and a great legacy for east London.”
Howard Davidson, Director South East, Environment Agency, said: “The River Lea has dazzled tens of thousands of spectators tonight and its image will be unforgettable. The River Lea as centre stage in these festivities is a tribute to the Olympics and the many people who have worked so hard over the years to bring new life and vibrancy to the local environment for everyone to enjoy.”
Tony Hales, Chair of Canal & River Trust, said: “It is so exciting to see the waterways of the Lower Lea Valley slowly coming back to life as vibrant, cultural spaces. A decade ago this sort of celebration would have been unimaginable. Now I hope it will become the norm as more people learn to love and care for the river.”
Open East Festival
The Open East Festival includes a host of international music acts on the main music and Caught by the River stages, including The Waterboys, Seun Kuti with special guests Robert Glasper & Dead Prez, a supergroup of Malian artists including celebrated duo Amadou and Mariam, Vieux Farka Touré and Fatoumata Diawara assembled by Cheick Tidian Seck, Ondatropica featuring Quantic and Frente Cumbiero, U-Roy, Bomba Estéreo, Jupiter & Okwess International, Soul Caribbean, DJ Don Letts, Wire, Stealing Sheep, Viv Albertine, Le Volume Courbe and The Rockingbirds.
The Fairey Band, also known as Acid Brass, are also performing at the festival. Acid Brass, the brainchild of Jeremy Deller, is the unlikely fusion of Acid House anthems with the sound of a traditional British Brass Band. Their performances of music by groups like the KLF, 808 State and many more have been huge hits with audiences at music festivals across Europe and beyond.
Open East Festival is a fantastic day out in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park for all the family. Young visitors will be enchanted by The House of Fairy Tales who will present their legendary Travelling Art Circus (which includes Gavin Turk’s Space Pyramid), encounter Joey from the acclaimed National Theatre production War Horse, and be mesmerised by Graeae’s production of Ted Hughes’ The Iron Man.
There are also opportunities to witness performances from some leading east London artists and organisations, unearth a future masterpiece at the Art Car Boot Fair (featuring Bob & Roberta Smith, Gavin Turk and leading East London street artist Pure Evil), experience the Pandemonium Drummers and BMX riders from the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony and explore London’s newest park.
Sacrilege, the life-sized inflatable bouncy castle replica of Stonehenge by Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller, originally commissioned by Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art and the Mayor of London, has also finally made its way into Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park as part of the festival.
The Open East Festival continues tomorrow (Sunday 28 July) and thanks to the support of Arts Council England and the Legacy Trust UK day tickets are priced at just £9.50 for adults, £6.00 for children aged 5 – 16, and under 5’s go free. Tickets are available from www.ticketmaster.co.uk/openeastfestival or can be bought at the Box Office at the entrance to the Festival site at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.