Two sculptures by Romanian Artist Erno Bartha sit in the West Lake of Victoria Park. Called ‘Skyscraper’ and ‘Bird’ they were installed as part of the Cultural Olympiad. Part of a series of cultural activities to take place across London in the Olympic year of 2012.
Made from hay and re-enforced with steel frames these were organic sculptures. Only initially meant to stay in position until 2013. They have nonetheless endured. A reminder of the time that Victoria Park played host to the greatest show on earth.
Romanian Art in Victoria Park
Erno Bartha is a Romanian sculptor from Cluj in Transylvania. His work mixes modern shapes with traditional materials. His unique hay sculptures are an example of just that. Abstract in nature they stretch across two worlds, the old and the new. The traditional and the outward looking.
Although self funded by Erno Bartha himself, the sculptures in Victoria Park were part of a wider series of art events supported by the Romanian Cultural Institute. Consisting of 17 different projects across a range of media. The events were billed as a gift to the people of London from Romania during the 2012 Olympics themselves.
Nature in the City
In total there were three hay sculptures created as part of a wider project called ‘Nature in the City‘. Bartha’s works having been selected by the Romanian Cultural Institute following a competition in Romania. The other piece, a sculpture called ‘Time Spiral’ was installed in the Pleasure Gardens at Silvertown Quays near Pontoon Dock. However shortly after the installation, the gardens closed down. It was never seen by the public and rather shockingly it was put up for auction in 2014 allegedly without the permission of the artist. It is uncertain what happened to ‘Time Spiral’ or where it is now.
Skyscraper and Bird however have been seen by many. The location in the West Lake of Victoria Park is a prominent one. The works are a connection between man and nature. The ‘Nature in the City’ idea is all about that thought of re-connection. There in the lake the pieces are both stark against the environment whilst at the same time blending in. Elegant shapes set amidst the ornamental layout of a Victorian era park.
The Hay Sculptures by Erno Bartha ‘Skycraper’ and ‘Bird’ can be seen on the West Lake of Victoria Park. They were installed as part of the Cultural Olympiad in 2012. Pictures of Bird and Skyscraper used in this piece were taken on 2 August 2020.
For more articles in this series of sculptures in the East End of London, have a look at: