The Olympic Stadium 2012 will be unveiled, in London, with a striking outdoor colour installation by British artist, Sophie Smallhorn
. The Stadium, designed by Populous, will welcome visitors with a riot of undulating movement of colour inspired by the official Olympic colours.
Sophie Smallhorn is an artist who works with colour, positioning herself halfway between the art world and the design world. Her work ranges in size and medium from small to large scale, sculpture to architecture, fashion to design. The Olympic Stadium project, commissioned by Populous in 2008, marks her largest work to date. She has worked closely with the architectural team to devise a creative solution to bring colour onto the structure. Colour has an inherent role in the Olympic Games, past and present, whether part of the iconic five-ring symbol or the flags of the 204 countries participating. The resulting artwork is inspired by this knowledge.
The monochrome structure is Smallhorns perfect canvas onto which her colour story unfolds. Using canvas banners running from top to bottom of the exterior of the stadium, Smallhorn assigns a specific colour to each individual banner, creating a colour spectrum encircling the building. The stadium design is an open structure with a space between each banner creating over 300 doorways that invite the visitor to enter. This idea of doorways was the inspiration in conceiving the palette of 56 colours, that apart from the four anchored brand colours, has no particular hierarchy or system. What it does do is create a dynamic rhythm of colour and energy adding to the sense of excitement that unfolds within the Stadium.
About the project Sophie Smallhorn says: For me, colour is an international language, understood by all on many levels. To be given the opportunity to breathe colour into this iconic Olympic building and to influence how people might approach and interact with it has been truly inspiring.
Sophie Smallhorns work explores ideas of colour, form and proportion. She creates simple abstract three dimensional pieces that act as vehicles to hold studies of colour; almost always formal, hard edged, graphic, often almost architectural in their aesthetic. Working with colour is a purely intuitive process of design-led decisions based on creating work that explore the juxtaposition of easy and difficult palettes. Within the formality of a piece colours will move to explore ideas of order and chaos, balance and imbalance within chromatic interactions.
Sophie Smallhorn studied furniture at Brighton University (1991-1994). Her sculptural pieces were initially a byproduct of the furniture making, made of off cuts. On leaving college and moving to London she found that sculpture was where her real interest was and has remained.
Having moved through design training into work that sits within the art world Smallhorn would consider her work to sit very much in the grey area between art and design. Her creative thought process and the way in which she talks about her work is based much more within the language of design than in the world of art speak.