For those of us who aren’t in London to experience the Olympic Games first-hand, it’s impossible for the cameras to convey all the excitement and local energy surrounding the event. The athletes may be the star of the show, but outside of the arena, the city is teeming with exhibitions, artists and makers. One such maker is Sarah Turner, a local artist and Etsian who was, to her surprise, invited to make a one-of-a-kind lighting fixture and sculpture in the Hospitality Centre at the Olympic Park.
The first light Turner made for her Etsy shop was the Cola 30, named after the recycled Coca Cola bottles that comprised the fixture. Nothing prepared Turner when she was contacted by the beverage company. “I remember when I first got the email, it just had ‘Coca Cola’ written in the subject title,” says Turner. “I didn’t think anything of it as a lot of my work is made from Coca Cola bottles — I often get emails with this as the subject title.” Over the course of 18 months, Turner met with Coca Cola to discuss her ideas. It was finally determined that she would build five light fixtures, each featuring her original Cola 30 design.
Beyond the initial excitement, Turner admits it came with a lot of nerves. “I always have the saying in my head, ‘If other people can do it, so can I,'” says Turner. “I kept that saying in mind when I made my leap of faith to start my business. I think the way to approach such a big project is to solve each problem one step at a time and try to not think about them all at once.” Turner spent hours preparing and gathering materials, documenting her journey along the way.
Even more daunting than the light fixtures was the additional challenge of creating a 9-metre tall sculpture that depicted a diver plunging into water. The sheer size of the work was certainly a major road block in the process. “My studio wasn’t large enough to make everything,” remarks Turner. “I didn’t have a space 9 metres high to make the sculpture in one piece so it had to be made, string by string, in sections lying on the floor,” explains Turner. “I only saw the sculpture complete after it was installed, so it was very nerve racking!”
Atheletes aren’t the only ones performing at London right now, and Turner wants everyone to know. “It’s an international event, so the spotlight is truly on the UK,” says Turner. “We have to show the rest of the world what we can achieve creatively.” Turner is proud to represent her country and her fellow artists, exuding the passion and creativity to be found outside of the stadium.
Chappell Ellison is a designer, writer and design writer. She currently lives in Brooklyn, New York where she serves as a contributor for The Etsy Blog and design columnist for GOOD.