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Grunting red bus that can do press ups unveiled in Islington

07:01 27 July 2012

Bus Sculpture outside Islington's Business Design Centre. PIC by Dieter Perry (MUST CREDIT)

Bus Sculpture outside Islington's Business Design Centre. PIC by Dieter Perry (MUST CREDIT)

Dieter Perry

A huge grunting double-decker bus with mechanical arms that can do press ups took up residence in Islington in celebration of the Olympics on Tuesday.

In his first major public commission in London for more than a decade, Prague based artist David Cerny unveiled his robotic masterpiece outside the Business Design Centre in Upper Street.

It will be become Czech House when it is taken over by the country’s Olympic committee for the duration of the Games.

The life sized bus – London Booster – commissioned by the Czech team, is set to give any gym enthusiast a run for their money with its ability to do a series of impressive push-ups.

Mr Cerny said: “The obsession with sport, the frenzy it generates, sometimes even ending in street war and regularly in a dependence on the activity, always amazed me.

“Press ups are a particular physical exercise which every athlete does, but they also form part of a military drill and sometimes are forced on prisoners as punishment. When I was approached by the architects of the Czech House to work on a piece, I took the challenge and, I hope, besides its monumentality and humour, the London Booster shows a certain ambivalence and irony.”

Speaking at its unveiling, Mr Cerny explained how the design process started just before Christmas. It took less than six months to build in a gruelling schedule which saw him work Sundays and nights.

But the “pain” of creating the artwork was worth it now that he can see how it is being enjoyed by the public.

And enjoy it they did, with local residents turning out for the unveiling alongside Czech nationals visiting for the Olympics and the Czech presidential candidate Jan Fischer.

Cerny is renowned for his controversial pieces. In 1991 he painted Monument to Soviet Tank Crews, a World War II memorial in Prague in pink.

The bus will be on show until August 12.

Some of the Czech Republic’s greatest exports will be showcased at the Business Design Centre this summer.

The Cerny installation is just the first of a number of exhibitions at Czech House, which opens on Friday. Art, photography, food, wine and beer will all be on offer, alongside live coverage of the Games in Czech and English every day on huge screens.

Its aim is to stage the celebrations for successful Czech athletes in the purpose-built arena which is said to have a capacity of 2,500.

Special guests are also set to appear, including 100 metre sprint record-holder Usain Bolt, Olympic chairman Lord Coe and Arsenal footballer and captain of the Czech national team Tomáš Rosický.

Alongside the sporting celebrations, it will also host live music acts. Entrance costs £5 and tickets and more information can be found at www.czechhouse.co.uk

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