World of Sport

Artist accuses Danny Boyle of copying London 2012 ceremony idea

Lee Sendall's 2009 competition entryA British artist is threating to sue Danny Boyle after claiming that his work was ripped off for the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics.

Lee Merrill Sendall claims that he created a design in 2009 that showed a ridged mound very similar to the one used in Boyle's widely-acclaimed opening ceremony, complete with an athlete carrying an Olympic torch at the top.

Sendall's original design was put forward for the Artists Taking the Lead competition, run by the Arts Council England and Olympic games organisers LOCOG, which sought submissions for 12 regional art projects to celebrate the Games.

The mound in Danny Boyle's London 2012 opening ceremony

The Hull-based artist made the shortlist for his proposal, but after he missed out on the commission - and the £500,000 prize that came with it - he thought no more about it. Until, that is, he saw Boyle's plans.

"When I saw the design, I was immediately struck by their similarity to some of the imagery we produced for my proposal," Sendall told The Art Newspaper.

"But it wasn't until I began receiving messages from people asking if I was involved in the opening that I realised the gravity of what had occurred."

Sendall - who explains his claims in detail on his blog - told the Daily Telegraph that he had been bombarded with messages from people who had seen his original design, which he had made into a series of postcards with fellow artist Dominic Heffer.

"On the night of the opening ceremony, I received messages from relatives and friends asking if Danny Boyle had permission to use my idea," Sendall added.

"Too many of my concepts and visuals appeared in the ceremony to be shrugged off as coincidence. I would have liked to have been asked if my ideas could be used and I would like proper credit for the project which I put a lot of work into."

A LOCOG spokesman told The Art Newspaper that Boyle had taken the idea, saying that, "The vision for the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games was Danny Boyle's and his only. Danny didn't look at submissions for ideas."

The statement added that Boyle had been inspired by Glastonbury Tor as he dreamt up his "Green and Pleasant"-themed element of the ceremony. Similar ridged mounds exist all over the country.

A copyright lawyer told The Art Newspaper that there's "a pretty good case" if Sendall can prove that Boyle saw his design, though the artist himself admits that such proof would be hard to secure even if he could find the necessary funding for legal action.