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Damien Hirst flies the flag at Olympics closing ceremony

Union Jack stadium floor forms "mosh pit" while Heatherwick's cauldron deconstructs

Hirst's "flag"

The 2012 London Olympic Games ended on Sunday night (12 August) with a spectacular closing ceremony that featured fireworks, pop stars, military bands, supermodels and a floor designed by the artist Damien Hirst that covered the athletics field. The floor formed a giant Union Jack in patriotic, spin-painting-style colours, with the flag's bars and diagonals (in fact, ramps for the performers and props) decorated as newsprint.

While the concert was in full swing the 5,600 sq. m flag formed the dance floor of a vast "mosh pit" for the assembled athletes, who joined the 80,000 spectators in the greatest sing-a-long in east London's history.

At the end of the ceremony, the Thomas Heatherwick-designed Olympic cauldron, the toast of the opening ceremony two weeks ago, gracefully deconstructed before being extinguished. The cauldron was formed of 204 copper "petals" on tall stems that at the close of the Games opened like a flower before coming to rest as a horizontal ring. The ingenious work was a piece of ephemeral kinetic sculpture. The flames went out accompanied by the British pop group Take That singing "Rule the World" and a dance sequence starring the prima ballerina Darcey Bussell and 300 dancers from the Royal Ballet.

A scale model of the cauldron and a prototype of one of the copper petals have been added to "Heatherwick Studio: Designing the Extraordinary", an exhibition at London's Victoria and Albert Museum (until 30 September).

A spokeswoman for the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (Locog) declined to reveal the cost of Hirst and Heatherwick's contribution to the event. Locog's budget for the Games' opening and closing ceremonies was £27m.

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27 Aug 12
22:45 CET


It is great news and could not be at a better timing right after the Olympics to highlight a personal and private effort in favour of the arts, mostly when such an initiative praises the sports values.

14 Aug 12
18:0 CET


An enormeus achievement of the art world. Be represented at such magnificent event is a step forward culture. Congratulations to the art world.

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