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Olympic Opening Ceremony

After the Opening ceremony of the Olympics 2012, I began receiving lots of messages from friends asking if I had contributed to the opening festivities. It seems the central element was a spiral mound surrounded by a pastoral landscape. A cursory look at some stills from the event seemed to show some remarkable similarities, not only conceptually but down to some of the smaller visual details, to my good friend and collaborator Dominic Heffer’s illustrations. For example, see above.

The top image is one of our postcards that showed the mound through the ages.

The image below is a mock up of the opening ceremony.

The little house being in almost the same place seems a little more than coincidental.

As struggling artists in the North of England some recognition of our hard work to bring this concept to light would have been most welcome, if indeed it did inspire the opening ceremony.

Although my proposal was to build an actual mound 40m high in the flat landscape of Holderness, East Yorkshire, it does seem that our imagery and conceptual vision has heavily influenced the theatrical opening ceremonies theme and look.

My proposal to build a neo-neolithic mound was not merely thought of for the Olympic competition, it is an idea that I have wanted to fulfill for many years. The Olympic competition was a potential vehicle to make it happen.

Again, if it inspired the producers of the opening ceremony, some recognition of my bid to create one for real could have made a huge difference in its viability.

It seems there is more to this story concerning the regional judging process of the ‘Artists taking the lead’ competition, which if true makes this situation even more troubling and disturbing to me, however I leave that to September’s issue of Arts Professional to explain.

What do you think?

UPDATE: Also see my latest blog in this matter here : Olympic Opening Ceremony Debacle goes Mainstream Media

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  1. pat phippard
    November 3, 2012 at 8:51 pm | #1

    I asked my seven year old grandson if he thought the postcard design of Dominic Heffer’s, and the mound and house design of the Olympic opening ceremoney looked the same. ” They are the same” said. I agree with him.

  2. November 22, 2012 at 9:25 am | #2

    “It seems the central element was a spiral mound surrounded by a pastoral landscape.”

    Wrong. The mound did not have any form of spiral, nor was it central to the scene, nor was it surrounded by the landscape.

    “The little house being in almost the same place seems a little more than coincidental.”

    if you’re going to have a house on the main stage, and a mound at one end, there’s no other way that the positioning could differ from your ‘postcard’ (with the house in front of the mound). Also, in between the house and the mound is a maypole and a moshpit. On your postcard however, there is a small forest, and a road/track connecting the house and mound. I would say that what you’re trying to claim is the same, is entirely coincidental.

  3. LMS
    November 22, 2012 at 2:35 pm | #3

    You are free to have your opinion Dave,

    But I am not going to get into an argument over the details here with you. You’ll have to wait until I publish my complete analysis, sorry. You seem unable to see the bigger picture here though.

    I entered an Olympic competition, it received press and publicity all over the country when I was short listed. The public made hundreds of comments on the ACE website, now deleted…

    There were representatives of LOCOG on the judging panel. This site ranked highly on google with many searches relating to the London 2012 Olympics. The art work was also on the national ACE website until they pulled it down, in 2011 sometime…

    Is it possible that Danny Boyle may have done some research when landing the opening ceremony job? Well it would be strange if he didn’t. Is he likely to have come across this site? Almost definitely in my opinion. Can that be proved? Well there are IP addresses I suppose.

    I would be most interested to see the sketches that informed the model and indeed the opening ceremony itself. They would be enlightening. I’d also be interested to see any workings relating to this idea by Danny Boyle et al that pre-date ours.

    The Artists taking the Lead Competition was a huge Nationwide arts competition in 2009, anybody working in the arts would have known about it, or entered it, or known someone who did.

    You seem unable to grasp the context that all this occurred in or see, what for most, is glaringly obvious….

    It is interesting though that you and Nick keep asking the same question of me i.e: Is there anything that will convince me Danny Boyle or his associates didn’t see my work?

    Are you acting on his behalf perhaps?

    When I was preparing my proposal I researched all kinds. I spoke with experts on Silbury Hill, I was aware of all other artists who have built spiral mounds in recent years. The public comments on the media stories often point out that many others have created hills like this since time immemorial. They all inspired me. However in preparing my proposal I didn’t feel the need to copy any of their drawings or sketches or artwork.

    A spiral mound in itself is not original. However perhaps you will admit that the Olympic hill bore more resemblance to mine than Glastonbury Tor? It is elongated and not christmas pudding shaped, like mine and indeed Silbury hill.

  4. November 22, 2012 at 8:45 pm | #4

    Ah, but it’s not opinion, Lee. The things you stated (“It seems the central element was a spiral mound surrounded by a pastoral landscape”), are simply not true.

    So what if representatives of LOCOG were on the judging panel? Danny wasn’t even involved until the following year.

    “Is he likely to have come across this site? Almost definitely in my opinion. ” – well, this is the key problem. What would he have been searching for that lead him here? If it was “spiral mound”, which is highly unlikely as what was in the show was never described with either of those words (the former of which is not even relevant – there was no spiral in the opening ceremony), surely he would have come up with that idea himself in order to search for it in the first place.

    “I would be most interested to see the sketches that informed the model and indeed the opening ceremony itself. They would be enlightening.”

    I completely agree. In the meantime, there are various behind the scenes photos and sketches on the blog for the ceremony, which I assume you have not seen? http://olympicopeningceremony.tumblr.com/tagged/stage4

    Specifically, here is the Tor, which is clearly steeper on one side than the other, just like Glastonbury Tor: http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m7tdtu4PsL1ray64do2_1280.jpg

    Here is a sketch of the idea for the tree at the top of the Tor: http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m7tdw9VwuT1ray64do1_1280.jpg

    And here’s the brook/stream/river next to the water wheel, which is nothing like a pond or a lake: http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m7tee4CJyk1ray64do3_1280.jpg

    “I’d also be interested to see any workings relating to this idea by Danny Boyle et al that pre-date ours.” – that would be impossible as he wasn’t brought in until after you published yours.

    So, is there anything that will convince you that Danny Boyle didn’t see your design? You’ve still not answered.

    I have no contact with Danny, I am here because I want to understand your claim. So far, I still don’t see why you can’t accept that a couple of vaguely similar elements (a hill, a cottage and some clouds) does not amount to plagiarism.

  5. LMS
    November 22, 2012 at 9:10 pm | #5

    “So, is there anything that will convince you that Danny Boyle didn’t see your design? You’ve still not answered.”

    I have answered.

    Those links reveal nothing. Other than it was a big production. I already knew that.

    What is most perplexing is your insistence that I have somehow not told the truth in my statement. Which is, believe it or not, an actual quote and not paraphrased.

    To all intents and purposes the description is true. If you want to argue ziggurat, tor’s or spiral mounds we can do until we are blue in the face. A ziggurat for instance is usually a rectangular structure. The Olympic hill looks more like a spiral mound. Like silbury hill for example, or one of Charles Jenks or Northalla fields (made by a friend of mine) among others.

  6. November 22, 2012 at 9:24 pm | #6

    Sorry but I have somehow missed your answer. What was it?

    The images reveal the shape of the Tor, that it had a tree at the top, not a runner/torch, and that there was no pond or lake, but in fact flowing water.

    Sorry, which statement/quote are you referring to?

    How can the hill used in the ceremony “look more like a spiral mound”, when there was no spiral on it?!

  7. LMS
    November 22, 2012 at 9:31 pm | #7

    It was your first quote from me in your last comment Dave. Keep up! The one you said was not true. And it still looks nothing like Glastonbury Tor, from any angle….

    I guess he is paying you by the word. Maybe we’ve even got Dave’s on shifts as you seem to post at all times of the day and night. Its simply lovely that you have all this time to spend on nitpicking here, and I am glad of it because it has caused me to do some more research!


  8. November 22, 2012 at 9:35 pm | #8

    How does that quote (“It seems the central element was a spiral mound surrounded by a pastoral landscape”) answer the question “is there anything that will convince you that Danny Boyle didn’t see your design”? It’s a yes or no question.

    Nope, sorry, I have never been paid a penny by Danny. I don’t keep conventional hours, but that’s not really relevant. And yes, it’s good that someone dares to challenge your unreasonable claims and causes you to actually do more research. The truth will out!

  9. LMS
    November 22, 2012 at 9:37 pm | #9


  10. November 22, 2012 at 9:39 pm | #10

    “it still looks nothing like Glastonbury Tor, from any angle….” – I think that makes you blind, then. Glastonbury Tor is steep on one side, as was the Tor in the ceremony (the side built on the stadium seats, generally not visible on photographs of the model, or on TV footage).

    The mound in your design appears to be round with equally steep sides (correct me if I’m wrong).

    They are different shapes.

  11. LMS
    November 22, 2012 at 9:47 pm | #11

    Ok, it looks a bit like Glastonbury Tor (from some angles) but it looks more like mine or Silbury hill or that one in Krakow or many others.

    You are still not seeing the big picture though.

    You can quibble over any one element. But when the whole concept and all the little elements collide at the same time in the same location it becomes an extraordinary coincidence that is very hard to believe.

    As you say, I hope the truth will out. I look forward to that day.


  12. November 22, 2012 at 9:54 pm | #12

    No, it doesn’t look like yours. Yours has a sand/rock path running around it in a spiral shape. The Tor in the ceremony was a different shape, and did not have a path running around it as a spiral or otherwise (it just had various symmetrical tracks in the relief of the visible side, to allow performers to walk up or down it, and for flags to be placed on it later in the show).

    Sorry, what big picture/concept? So far this has been all about the look of things. I am quibbling over all the elements that you claim look just the same.

    How does that quote (“It seems the central element was a spiral mound surrounded by a pastoral landscape”) answer the question “is there anything that will convince you that Danny Boyle didn’t see your design”? It’s a yes or no question.

  13. LMS
    November 22, 2012 at 10:10 pm | #13

    “Locog say it was based on Glastonbury Tor? It looks nothing like Glastonbury Tor !! It does however, look remarkably like Mr Sendalls artwork, funny that, could it be they’re trying to pull a fast one? – logical15, Lancing, 15/11/2012 9:27″

  14. LMS
    November 22, 2012 at 10:12 pm | #14

    “I dunno, it could be a coincidence, but it’s a very close one if it is. Besides, if they’d really been inspired by Glastonbury Tor, would they have referenced the shape of her, not the spiral? – Prinn, Hill Valley, 15/11/2012 13:20″

  15. LMS
    November 22, 2012 at 10:13 pm | #15

    “there are coincidences `but` this is a copy !!!!! if the kid really sent in that pic he has been ripped off and should sue the shirt of boyles back !!! – steveholt”

  16. LMS
    November 22, 2012 at 10:13 pm | #16

    ” I made a sandcastle exactly like that in 1962. Can i sue him as well? – Macbert

    Did you submit your sandcastle to the olympic comittee for inclusion in the olympics to have the idea rejected and then used anyway? And our audience said…. no. – Kez”

  17. LMS
    November 22, 2012 at 10:15 pm | #17

    “The resemblances are too close to be coincidence. Litigation is almost undoubtedly unaffordable and equally unnecessary; In the eyes of many Danny Boyle’s name and reputation will be tarnished. What a pity, when a simple acknowledgement was all that was required. Some of the posts here are little short of disgusting! Shame on youse. – Val Gaize”

  18. November 22, 2012 at 10:44 pm | #18

    It’s lucky that copyright law infringement is not decided by the mob! The Prinn comment in particular makes no sense – there was no spiral on the hill in the ceremony. And calling you a kid? It shows how little thought or attention to detail goes into these comments.

    The others are just uninformed opinions…

    “It does however, look remarkably like Mr Sendalls artwork” – no, not to anyone who’s actually seen and worked with the set.

    “there are coincidences `but` this is a copy !!!!!” – so where’s the proof that is was copied? How come there are hundreds of differences? You said yourself that your “proposal was to build an actual mound 40m high in the flat landscape of Holderness, East Yorkshire”. Has this actually happened then?

    “The resemblances are too close to be coincidence”, in Val’s opinion.

    And the sandcastle meaning was completely missed. Your idea/proposal was NOT used.

  19. LMS
    November 22, 2012 at 10:48 pm | #19

    “If this idea was ripped off, well it’s a lazy man who did it. Unfortunately for this artist, there is no copyright in ideas. If there was such a law, there would only ever be ‘one’ of anything. After all how many more magic themed TV series are we going to see, as bred from Harry Potter? JKR would spend all her time in Court suing people for God’s sake! Plagiarism is the theft; but not the same thing as taking an idea and developing it. Although, if Boyle did see the guy’s work first, he could have been a little more subtle! – Serpico”

  20. LMS
    November 22, 2012 at 10:49 pm | #20

    “Let’s put it another way: if someone had shown you the drawing and then said, ‘Ok folks, how close to the original idea did Mr Boyle stick?’, you would say 100%. This looks EXACTLY like the idea used for the ceremony. – Rob”

  21. November 22, 2012 at 10:55 pm | #21

    Haha, you’ve posted Serpico’s comment that completely derides your actions.

    And Rob’s comment is hilarious, I am sure even you, Lee, would agree that your proposal was not “EXACTLY” the same as the ceremony, seeing as you were talking about constructing a mound in Yorkshire, not some pastoral scenery in Stratford.

  22. LMS
    November 22, 2012 at 10:59 pm | #22

    Serpico’s comment is relevant because the likeness is plain for him to see. Regardless of what he thinks my actions are going to be. I’m glad my posting it tickled you though. I may move onto French Philosophers next….

  23. November 22, 2012 at 11:07 pm | #23

    Um, no, not at all – the very first word of his comment was “If”. And he raises a great point… “if Boyle did see the guy’s work first, he could have been a little more subtle!” – do you really think if anyone was in that position, they would not have been subtler like he suggests? Do you really think that IF Danny saw your design and copied it, he’d think that was an acceptable thing to do, and that he would get away with it? Please use some common sense!

  24. LMS
    November 22, 2012 at 11:13 pm | #24

    He has got away with it Dave, and no doubt he will continue to do so. I have posted many comments that are critical of me here. Including yours. As long as you remain civil I will continue to do so. But I won’t be answering anymore of your questions on this matter because I know what your response will be.

    You are wiser than everyone else who has commented because? You were there at the opening, in the stadium, dressed as a tree or something… Does a fish know more about the sea than a sailor? You are far too critical of every point I have made to be taken seriously. Clearly your agenda is simply to discredit me. I will let the evidence speak for itself.

  25. November 22, 2012 at 11:30 pm | #25

    How has he got away with it?! You have put him in the firing line!

    What will my response be, sorry? And why does that affect you answering them? If you are so confident about your claims, you have nothing to lose.

    “Dressed as a tree” – did you actually watch the show at all!? Have you even bothered to do so this week?! Nobody was dressed as a tree. Your account of your friends and family contacting you as it was being broadcast also imply that you didn’t actually see it yourself.

    “Does a fish know more about the sea than a sailor?” Um, yes, I would say so! A fish lives in the sea all the time, and can swim down to the bottom etc., whereas a sailor only sails some of the time and rarely if ever touches the water let alone swims in it. I really don’t get the point of this metaphor.

    I am too critical to be taken seriously? What kind of logic of that? I have made valid points throughout, and have every intention to remain civil (yet you have not been civil by trying to make fun of me by suggesting I was dressed as a tree, or that I am not a real individual). My agenda is to demonstrate the falsity of your claims. Your designs, your ideas and your concepts, were not used in the ceremony. Have you even researched the actual concepts of the show? Spoken to Danny, read the event programme, watched or read interviews? Let alone actually watched the final result? You are acting like you have not, as the differences would be clear to you if you had.

    Your reluctance to answer simple questions about your claims speaks volumes.

  26. LMS
    November 22, 2012 at 11:37 pm | #26

    Tit for tat Dave, you have accused me of being a liar and a fool. I don’t know if you’ve noticed but there’s only me and you here.

    Fish have very small brains compared to sailors who can think about stuff (hopefully).

    I have been talking about this since August, the media picked up on it in its own sweet time. Nothing to do with me. They are using quotes from me at the time. Of course I’ve since watched the opening ceremony. I have also told you this before, here on this blog.

    You are simply repeating yourself.

    Everything you need to know is here on this blog.

    If after careful consideration you see no resemblance or connection with the opening ceremony you should say so and move along.

    I happen to disagree with you.

  27. November 23, 2012 at 12:12 am | #27

    Well, yes, you have lied about facts, and are foolish to do so. It’s only you and I commenting right now – so what?

    Fish still understand their environment, whereas sailors just observe it.

    So if you’ve watched it, why do you think your concept has been copied? Why do you think your design has been used or plagiarised? You keep avoiding my request for a full explanation. Oh, and why do you think people were dressed as trees, or that a spiral path or a lake/pond was somehow used in the show, if you have actually seen it?

    No, everything I would like to know is not here. You have said yourself that you are withholding details of your claim. You are now just contradicting yourself which does not look great.

    After careful consideration from what you have presented, I see a very loose/vague resemblance or connection with a part of the opening ceremony – the fact that you have a mound, a cottage, some fields and some clouds. But you say there is more to it than that, so again I am waiting to hear the details.

  28. LMS
    November 23, 2012 at 12:26 am | #28

    How many times do I have to tell you its all here on this site! You can’t or won’t see it. What have I lied about exactly? If you persist in accusing me of lying and of being a fool I will have to stop allowing your comments. The tree comment was clearly a joke. Are you joking when you call me a liar? I don’t think you are.

  29. LMS
    November 23, 2012 at 4:53 pm | #29

    “THIS IS HIGHLY SUSPECT … so much so that I’d be willing to support a fund for bringing legal action!

    Here’s something I learned from a publisher some time ago.

    Publishing houses regularly go through their ‘slop pile’ and pinch ideas from would-be writers. They then ‘suggest’ these ideas to their in-house scribblers or to writer’s who are already tried and trusted or household names. This is far better – quicker and cheaper – than dealing with an untried amateur!

    An IDEA cannot be copyrighted and for most ideas it is not difficult to conjure up an inpirational story to show it all came to you – all of a sudden like!

    Of course it’s not that easy to prove your case – especially when you are a poor struggling artist/author. Also, these matters – like libel, slander and defamation – are for the RICH since the law is a commodity that can be bought like a sack of potatoes!

    When you submit any work for any competition the entry often becomes their ‘property’! Who’s had a gander is anyone’s guess!

    The answer is simple though brutal – either don’t bother and keep your precious ideas to yourself or be bold and take a BIG risk!

    You never know – you might be the next boil on someone’s ideas! – Amin2008″

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