Monday, 14 November 2011

Finish line at the Olympic Park

A dead straight path, with a smooth concrete surface raised up above the surrounding landscape, might in theory make an excellent bicycle racing track. The Greenway running from Hackney Wick to the Olympics site is just like that, with half the path set aside for pedestrians and the other half for cyclists. Now there is even a finish line at the View Tube end, but it isn't really there to promote irresponsible cycling. The Greenway is usually quite busy and, as always, people on foot don't care in the slightest about keeping off the cycling side. Then, the finish line is so close to the View Tube cafe it's barely safe to cycle throughout the archway at all, let alone at speed. This is in fact an installation, a mock-up of a Tour de France finish line made out of discarded fencing and scrap wood. Most of it is covered with the slats from chestnut paling fencing, which is made by splitting wood rather than sawing it, so the slats are twisted and have a pleasing rough surface dictated by the way the wood splits. The lettering is made from plywood and melamine-coated chipboard, so it's evidently not intended to last.

The official information board, written out in felt-tip on a crude timber notice board, says this is an artwork commissioned by View Tube Art and Create II and funded by the Arts Council of Great Britain. Created in July by Berlin-based artists Kobberling and Kaltwasser, they call it Goal and see it as a finishing post for both cyclists and pedestrians, to give a sense of the feeling you get from finishing a real race. It's tactile and reasonably witty - which is more than can be said for Anish Kapoor's ill-conceived Orbit tower, which looms in the background but still fails to convince.

The View Tube is a collection of shipping containers adapted to house a cafe, viewing platform and open-air art gallery, all painted lime green, and it has the best public viewpoint of the 2012 Olympics site during the construction period. Despite a slightly shambolic website the cafe is good, they have bikes for hire, and there is always something new in the way of artworks.

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