Pop-up Diary Entry – August 12 – The Golden Chair

“Thank you for coming home , I’m sorry that the chairs are all worn…” taken from Spandau Ballet ‘Gold’

A golden chair for 2012? Have I went all royalist and created a (belated golden) throne for our Majesty’s Jubilee?  No, 2012 was the summer of what we Britons do best, sit on our butt and win Olympic gold medals.

The lead up to it wasn’t the greatest, its London centric approach had sort of annexed itself from the rest of the country. The talk of advertisement banning, security issues and potential transport issues seemed a million miles away (well 453). It started to change for me with the Olympic torch relay, I was sceptical of its use to be honest, and was quite happily trying to avoid it. But incidentally saw a handover outside St Nicolas’s in Newcastle with hundreds of other people. And you know what it was a community warming event. The Opening Ceremony followed and did more than any Tory spin doctor to show that ‘We are all in this together’. Our shared agricultural then industrial heritage forged our identities, our building of institutions (NHS, music, children’s fiction) and a good dose of eccentricity (Mr Bean) showed the world that we understand who we are. The passing the torch onto a younger generation summed up our forward thinking approach. There was even prog rock music, Pink Floyd referenced three times and even Mike Oldfield on stage (which one tweet said was harder to organise than getting the Queen to jump out of a helicopter). My enthusiasm was also helped that I had also had my first taste of Olympic sport.

The previous day, some of the qualifying football matches were in Newcastle and I with much excitement I had went to St James park to watch South Korea v Mexico and Gabon v Switzerland. The first game was fantastic for the crowd. One side identically dressed koreans with large clapping sticks beating out a beat throughout the match, with occasioning shrill screams when favourite players touched the ball, on the other sombrero adorned Mexicans guttural roaring when goal kicks being taken. The second match was noticeable by the amount of local fans who were supporting the underdogs Gabon. A similar situation happened at the quarter final later in the tournament, when a much supported Brazil played the lowly Honduras. The excitement of samba football soon gave way to perceived injustice and neutral support for the central americans which lead to a standing ovation for a sent off Honduras player.

So the great summer of sport continued with some stunning performances in both the Olympics and then the Paralympics. After an initial few days with lack of British success the medals started to flow and the nation become lifted. I would return home from work, switch on the TV and become absorbed in the current action, whether athletics or dressage, sailing or handball. We would share the emotions of the competitors from ultimate joy to the pits of despair whilst getting hoarse from the shouts of encouragement and elation. There are too many high points to go through, but here are 20 of my favourite bits in no particular order.

  • Mo Farah winning both the 10,000m & 5,000m
  • International sports personality of the year Bert Le Clois is interviewed by presenter of the year Claire Balding
  • Nicola Adams smile
  • Andy Murray finally winning a title at Wimbledon
  • David Weir, determination and strength to win
  • Boris Johnston getting stuck on a zip wire
  • David Rudisha’s 800m. Greatest athletics performance with a world record from the front. Who needs pacemakers
  • Staying up late to watch British Womens Volleyball team win their first ever Olympic match
  • Bradley Wiggins, after dominating in Time Trail, sitting deservedly on the throne
  • Ellie Symonds, sportmanship personified
  • Jess Ennis dominating Heptathlon and winning the final event, 800m.
  • Handball
  • Katherine Grainger finally gets gold
  • Esposito the Honduran footballer, gets standing ovation at St James’s Park after being sent off
  • Laura Trott masterfully negotiating herself through the elimination race of the Omnium
  • The 2012/Thick of it stupidity of thinking George Osbourne wouldn’t get booed at the Paralympics
  • Jonnie Peacock winning the T44 100m
  • Mens Gymnastic team, winning first medals in nearly 100 years
  • Ben Ainsley victory – Who thought sailing could have so many mind games.
  • Wheelchair rugby AKA murderball

So almost a month later, it finished. We had been spoilt. A summer of sport with epic stories and great sportsmanship. The nation seemed on a high with only constant disappointment to look forward to. Andy Murray in the US open… nah. Europe retaining Ryder Cup… don’t think so. And just when we thought it couldn’t get better, the football season started and errr… back to the overpaid, cheating, “professionals”.

London 2012 you were great and I will miss that glorious summer of sport.

When designing this pop-up, I originally looked at doing a set of info graphics, Gender breakdowns, County breakdowns (Yorkshire was 4th in the medal table at one point), even something about class systems and types of sport. But in the end I went for the popular notion from the last two games that Great Britian win medals sitting down. It just so happens we are good at cycling, rowing, canoeing and equestrian events and at London 2012, these events accounted for 62% of our golds. 18 from 29. The two strips on the front of the card measure 18 & 11 respectively.

I was also aware that I didn’t want to use any Olympic branding. They made such an unnecessary fuss regarding logos, olympic rings, torches, medals or any connected wording due to their strict commercialism laws, I didn’t want to give them the satisfaction of my celebrationary pop-up festooned with such tack. So an Golden chair was devised, after seeing Mr Wiggins take his rightful place on the throne. It seemed right that I should create some form of seat, as this was our designated way of winning.

Using some of the techniques used in Origami Architecture, I decided to use one sheet of card to create the chair. A reasonably easy design, after folding the card in half a simple sketch was made (see diagram). On the top half of the sheet, the back of the chair with union jack backdrop, a decorate semi circle at the top and finials. A seat is under this that runs from the chair back to the fold. The length of the seat is reflected in the legs of the chair which appear on the bottom half of the card.

Take a sharp knife and carefully start cutting out the chair leaving only the chairs feet and the gap between the the finials and decorative top attached to the card. Cut out any internal designs (the union jack) gently pushing out excess. Now gently ease out the top of the chair (it won’t go very far) and make a crease where the seat  joins to the back. Gently raise the seat outwards, moving the legs from an inward  to an outward fold. Gently closing the card should make the folds for the chair feet. Slowly tease the chair shape a little from the card giving its shape and definition.  And there you go a chair. I made this in a corrugated gold card which gave some rigidity but also a bit of depth. The finished design has a piece of black card on the back to give definition to the union jack, the shape of the chair and its ominous shadow.


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