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New Work: Type, Trees, Rings and the Olympics

Over different locations around the Olympic Park in Stratford London rest ten rings suspended in trees, forged from phosphored bronze and stainless steel. Similar to the way natural trees rings show history and age, these rings tell the story of the Olympic site over the past few centuries.

Artists Ackroyd & Harvey were commissioned by the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) to create a permanent reminder of the games. Ackroyd and Harvey collaborated with Harry Pearce and Naresh Ramchandani at Pentagram to design the concept and build the rings, each 15 meters in diameter.

Inscribed on the inside of each ring is a double-lined vignette detailing the history of the site on which the ring stands. Ackroyd and Harvey  crafted the words with help from Pentagram’s Naresh Ramchandani.

“Heather (Ackroyd) and Dan (Harvey) worked and reworked on the words until they were perfect pieces of verbal archeology, juxtaposing objects, memories and feelings about London in a way that is evocative, playful and rhythmic,” says Naresh Ramchandani.

Data from Lucy Harrison, a local artist who collected stories from the local communities and archaeological research from the Museum of London helped inform the words etched into the rings.

The lettering, which runs as complete inner rings within the rings, was designed by Harry Pearce and his team. The lettering is a specially redrawn version of Akzidenz Grotesque. Pearce’s early configurations of the type were layered and complex, almost playfully decorative.

Finally in respect for the clarity of the poetry and the richness of the content, the two circles of type became a simplistic stream of data poetry. This suited the pure structure of the rings – words almost floating on their surface.

The rings will now become a permanent part of the landscape, remaining in the trees long after the Olympics have left.

Project Team: Harry Pearce, partner-in-charge and designer, Naresh Ramchandani, partner and writer, Jason Ching and Sean Chilvers, designers.