On arriving in London, each of the 204 national teams competing in the 2012 Olympic Games received a special object, inscribed with the name of its country. Each slightly different from the other, these objects have sculpturally beautiful forms, made in polished copper. During the opening ceremony, teams entered the Olympic stadium, a chosen team member bearing their country’s precious object. One by one, in a clearing at the centre of the growing crowd of athletes, these artefacts were laid out as offerings, forming a large-scale pattern on the ground that radiates like the petals of a flower.
When the last of these petals had been illuminated by the London 2012 Olympic Torch, the first one began rising silently from the ground, carried upwards on a long fine stem, followed in circular waves by all the others. Over the next minute or so, the 204 separate flames converged to form one great flame of unity surging into the sky, making this a giant kinetic sculpture in the centre of the stadium that symbolises the coming together in peace of 204 nations for two weeks of sporting competition.
At the close of the Games, the Olympic cauldron will open out and divide once more into its constituent objects. When each country has taken home its own object, as a souvenir of this most important sporting event, the 2012 cauldron will cease to exist. Like a flower that only blooms for the duration of the competition, it is a temporary representation of the extraordinary transitory togetherness that is an Olympic Games.
– text from heatherwickstudios.com
But don’t despair if you didn’t get a ticket to the Olympics to see the Cauldron, the Victorian and Albert museum are featuring a scale model of the Cauldron and other work by Heatherwick Studios in their show Designing the Extraordinary which runs until September 30th 2012.