Hong Kong Space Museum
Jeremy Deller's bouncy-castle Stonehenge, entitled Sacrilege, which is in London this week on its national Olympic tour, is the latest in a long line of artistic images of Britain's most famous ancient monument. That's not surprising in itself. What is interesting is how changing portrayals of Stonehenge have revealed contrasting moments in cultural history. Another way of putting this might be: where did it all go wrong for Stonehenge? In the Romantic age John Constable pictured Stonehenge as a mighty enigma on the wilderness of Salisbury Plain. The stones loom in craggy loneliness under a sky pierced by shafts of sublime light. It is intensely dramatic and serious – as far from a bouncy castle as you can get. Constable's fascination with these ancient stones is shared by his contemporary William Blake. For Blake, the silent prehistoric monument is a work of the giant Albion who in an image from his illustrated poem Jerusalem stands over it with dividers and a giant hammer. It is part of Blake's vision of an enchanted and chosen British landscape, recently expressed in the modern hymn using his words that kicked off the Olympic opening ceremony. The Romantic cult of Stonehenge was shared, or shaped, by the first proper archaeologist of Neolithic Britain, the 18th-century "antiquarian" William Stukeley. He depicted Stonehenge in the engravings that illustrate his books as a temple of the Druids. He created the myth still maintained by some that the Druids built this "temple".
Jeremy Deller's Olympic work, Sacrilege, will be popping up at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park this summer to commemorate a year since London 2012. The life-sized bouncy castle replica of Stonehenge has toured the world since first appearing in Glasgow, for the city's International Festival of Visual Art, last summer. Sacrilege briefly appeared in London's green spaces during the 2012 Olympics but never the Olympic Park, and then went on to other UK destinations, Paris and Hong Kong.
The installation will be part of the Open East Festival, 27-28 July, which has been co-organised by the Barbican and will see artists Bob & Roberta Smith, Gavin Turk and Pure Evil set up the Art Car Boot Fair, giving viewers the opportunity to buy their work at low prices. The Open East Festival will also feature performances from the Waterboys and a Malian supergroup including Amadou & Mariam, Fatoumata Diawara and Jupiter & Okwess International. There will also be a performance of Graeae's production of Ted Hughes's The Iron Man, and the wooden puppet star of War Horse, Joey, will be at the Park for the weekend.
A co-commission between Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art and the Mayor of London, the work was enormously popular when, supported by Creative Scotland, it appeared in Glasgow in 2012. With support from Arts Council England it traveled around the country as part of London 2012.
A member of the public bounces on a life-size interactive inflatable sculpture of Stonehenge called 'Sacrilege 2012' by English contemporary artist Jeremy Deller on display as part of the 'Inflation!' exhibition in Kowloon, Hong Kong. Six inflatable sculptures have been installed next to M+, Hong Kong's future museum for visual culture which opens to the public on April 25, 2013.