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Artless Olympics

Gawp at the shaming defeat of struggling taste | The Times

Stephen Bayley

When, in late summer, the Olympic tide at last retreats, what will be left besides an echoingly empty Velodrome and an Anish Kapoor doodle, as vapid as it is huge?
One of several answers is mountains of brainless, heartless, dispiriting junk. Amateurs of consumer tragedy can get a dramatic preview now at the online London 2012 shop. Never mind triumph in competition, here you can gawp at the shaming defeat of struggling taste. Who, looking upon this desultory collection of rubbish, would believe that London is the spiritual home of the great reforming movements in art education of the 19th century?....

Even to know that a Wenlock-branded “magnet set” exists is to feel a sense of national shame. Who approved such dross? His name should be pre-emptively forwarded to the Honours Forfeiture Committee. It is as if the assumptions of William Morris, Frank Pick and even Terence Conran that the consumer is not a drooling moron count for nothing.
The website is as artless as the terrible logo, long since a “signal passed at danger” for anyone with a sense that London has credibility as a global creative capital.
Lacking even honest vulgarity or cheerful camp, “Olympic Tat Online” looks like a poundstore in a post-industrial hell. Never mind faster, higher, stronger, here you have a dim insult. It’s a disgrace.


Don't forget the biggest tangible you will have when the Olympics are done. A huge pile of debt to add on to the mountain already owed.

That's not all - take a look at some giant-sized Olympic tat we've generously paid for already, via the Arts Council. The 2012 Cultural Olympiad includes a football pitch in the middle of a forest in Scotland (to be used twice, then abandoned), some gigantic hand-crocheted lions displayed in glass cases, a barge-load of rock and gravel dug up in the Arctic and floated around the south west coast of England before being taken back up to the Arctic, and a column of smoke in Liverpool (fuelled with bundles of our tax money, perhaps?)

The website uses words and phrases such as "unique", "remarkable", a "sense of occasion and wonder", "magic" and "single-minded quirkiness". However, I'm sure imaginative readers could find other choice words to describe this "range of exciting projects".

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