• Tumblr_m9iklivcrv1ray66io2_1280

    London Paralympics Opening Ceremony: The opening umbrella-based scene


We review the extraordinary opening ceremony for London's Paralympics

Posted by Rob Alderson,

When Jenny Sealey the director of the Paralympic Opening Ceremony was interviewed recently, she said: “This is our chance not to be hidden anymore. And a chance to be naughty." Last night in east London she lived up to her word, and then some.

From Stephen Hawking’s narration to Ian McKellen’s Prospero leading Miranda on a magical journey of self-discovery, from an apple-based Sir Isaac Newton tribute to Ian Drury’s banned Spasticus Autisicus, from books transformed into seagulls to a giant upside down umbrella to the Higgs Bosom particle the array of unforgettable imagery was almost overwhelming.

Where Danny Boyle chose to tell the story of this country through selected breakthroughs, Jenny Sealey focussed on science, knowledge and self-improvement. It could have been toe-curlingly worthy but it’s testament to her creative team that it was instead uplifting and massively impressive.

  • Tumblr_m9ips4ruxl1ray66io6_1280

    London Paralympics Opening Ceremony: A giant apple and book in tribute to Sir Isaac Newton

Complex scientific ideas and literary allusions were handled with amazing (sometimes childlike) imagination and visual dexterity – message and spectacle worked in concert. It was a lesson in how to handle ideas that have become trite in their retelling with verve and wit and the set pieces from a giant replica of Marc Quinn’s famous sculpture of Alison Lapper to the relighting of Heatherwick’s magnificent cauldron hung together with more visual cohesion than the Olympics ceremony managed.

But large-scale wow-factor relies also on the minute details and on the opening ceremony blog you can see the craftsmanship, care and attention that went into props and costumes.

For my money this bested Boyle’s bonkers brilliance – even Beverley Knight singing I Am What I Am as a finale was unexpectedly perfectly-judged. An epic evening in various respects.

  • Tumblr_m9iklivcrv1ray66io9_1280

    London Paralympics Opening Ceremony: The opening umbrella-based scene

  • Tumblr_m9iqz824in1ray66io2_1280

    London Paralympics Opening Ceremony: Dancers with the Marc Quinn replica

  • Tumblr_m9iniyhljh1ray66io2_1280

    London Paralympics Opening Ceremony: A paralympian floats on a zip-wire

  • Tumblr_m9iniyhljh1ray66io5_1280

    London Paralympics Opening Ceremony: Paralympians float on zip-wires

  • Tumblr_m9inn1qxo01ray66io3_1280

    London Paralympics Opening Ceremony: The world rises

  • Tumblr_m9inn1qxo01ray66io4_1280

    London Paralympics Opening Ceremony: Books become seagulls as Miranda sails away in an upturned umbrella

  • Tumblr_m9inn1qxo01ray66io1_1280

    London Paralympics Opening Ceremony: Dancers form the sea

  • Tumblr_m9iormbkn91ray66io1_1280

    London Paralympics Opening Ceremony: Sir Ian McKellen approaches a telescope

  • Tumblr_m9ips4ruxl1ray66io2_1280

    London Paralympics Opening Ceremony: The Newton apple dance

  • Tumblr_m9iqroe1o71ray66io4_1280

    London Paralympics Opening Ceremony: Disabled rights activists take centre stage

  • Tumblr_m9iqroe1o71ray66io8_1280

    London Paralympics Opening Ceremony: Dancers form the HIggs particle

  • Tumblr_m9ioxpzhyr1ray66io5_1280

    London Paralympics Opening Ceremony: Sketch

  • Tumblr_m9irmt13l81ray66io1_1280

    London Paralympics Opening Ceremony: Sketch

  • Tumblr_m9irmt13l81ray66io4_1280

    London Paralympics Opening Ceremony: Sketch


Posted by Rob Alderson

Editor-in-Chief Rob oversees editorial across all three It’s Nice That platforms; online, print and events. He has a background in newspaper journalism and a particular interest in art, advertising and photography. He is the main host of the Studio Audience podcast.

Most Recent: Miscellaneous View Archive

  1. Int-surey-int-list

    So you know how we provide you with multiple hits of arts and design goodness week in week out and ask BASICALLY NOTHING in return? Well we’d be forever in your debt if you could spare five minutes to take part in our latest audience survey. We have some big plans for the next few months but we want to make sure that whatever we do is rooted in what our readers want and expect, and so we’re super-keen to hear your views.

  2. Int-hiring-banner-list

    Have you ever logged onto It’s Nice That of a morning, flicked through a copy of Printed Pages magazine or sat (chuckling, probably) through one of our events and thought, ‘I wouldn’t mind being a part of that’? Well now’s your chance as we’re looking for a Senior Art Director to come and join our team here in London.

  3. Willhall-ponyfightpinterest-int-list

    We’ve all been there: it’s mid afternoon, you had too much lunch, the coffee’s worn off and the inspiration levels are in the doldrums. But that moodboard won’t build itself, right? So you head over to Pinterest and hope the good people there might have done some of the work for you.

  4. Alicerawsthorn-instagram-int-2

    An awful lot has been said and written about the new ways we consume design in the digital era. But although the rights and wrongs of design blogs have been well-covered, other platforms have received less attention as critical mediums and it’s always interesting to see new ways of engaging with visual content. Alice Rawsthorn is one of the best-respected design writers around, thanks both to her books and her articles for Frieze and The International New York Times.

    On January 1 she began posting design-related imagery to her new Instagram account and this has evolved in recent weeks into themed explorations of topics ranging from film titles to feminism. Posted with articulate explanatory captions, she seems to have hit upon an enlightening and accessible way to talk about design. We caught up with her to find out a little more…

  5. 4_500x325

    “I’ve been thinking about this forever and want a woman’s touch”…"In shape, 29 y/o, six feet tall"…"I know it sounds crazy but it’s a fantasy of mine for a woman to"… These are the most SFW snippets we can publish from a rather nuts, very rude new project by Cartelle Interactive, the people that brought us the brilliant, trippy J Dilla Donuts tribute, Dilla Dimension.

  6. Skipyoutube-int-list

    There is a world of weird and wonderful videos out there on YouTube but like most people I barely scratch the surface day-to-day. So a new project from Bertie Muller and Matthew Britton is helping address that with the aid only of a “skip” button.

  7. Dream_antoine-list-int

    Step aside Freud with your tedious dream analysis and your dirty mind, Photoshop Your Dreams is here with an altogether more entertaining alternative. 26 year-old Margaux Espinasse is web project manager based in Berlin, and she’s just set up the site, which asks readers to submit their dreams in order for her to recreate them in Photoshop.

  8. Unnamed

    As creative director of Bloomberg Businessweek Richard Turley helped revitalise the formerly staid title with his eye-catching covers and open-minded approach to lay-outs. When he moved to MTV last year many in the magazine world were sad (and surprised) to see him leave print behind. Yesterday we ran the first part of of our in-depth interview with Richard, in which he talked about his reasons for leaving BBW and what he’s been trying to achieve at MTV. In the second part today he talks about the need to shout about his new role and shares his thoughts on the respective design scenes in London and New York…

  9. Screen-shot-2015-02-10-at-14.31.20

    It was in April last year that news broke that Bloomberg Businessweek’s much-lauded creative director Richard Turley was leaving to join MTV as its first senior vice president of visual storytelling and deputy editorial director. It was hailed as a huge coup for the network but surprised some that a man who’d been such a passionate, brilliant and at times iconoclastic part of the magazine renaissance was leaving the print industry behind.

  10. Exposure-bjorn-borg-int-list

    When you think of Björn Borg you think of great tennis, luxurious golden locks and really expensive underpants – or at least I do, particularly the pants. What I don’t think of is high octane online gaming, of gun-toting lovers destroying negative bad guys on screen, or of a shirtless man riding a giant bear. But then, what do I know; apparently that’s exactly what Björn Borg is all about these days.

  11. Main2

    Did you know there are 722 Emoji options? I don’t know about you but I tend to use the same five over and over, they’re like talismans of my soul (if you’re asking: rowing man, sitting monkey, balloon, yellow sun face and chick coming out of egg). There’s a new site fluttering around the internet at the moment that allows you to pick any Emoji from the astonishingly extensive menu and create your own “art” with it. Slide the small toolbar in the bottom right to enlarge the Emoji of your choice and you can make scenes you have always dreamt of. For example: farting pig rides small stripey yacht while being chased by frog heads pushed along in the current by front crawl swimmers who, in turn, are being chased by happy little piles of poop. Fun! Also a big thanks to Josh King of King Zog for pointing us towards this gem.

  12. List_nice-sale

    If your New Year’s resolutions include being sensible with your cash and owning more great creative stuff, then have we got the sale for you. Just before Christmas we went through our storeroom and decided to reduce the amount of archive stuff we keep, so for one day only this Friday we’re opening the doors of our east London studio where we’ll be selling off magazines, books and T-shirts from just £1!

  13. List

    We recently came across Scottish artist Sam Lyon who resides in Dundee and makes these jiggling, nonsensical, fleshy GIFs. The creatures channel Flubber, sea cucumbers and those floppy little rubber sausages you used to get at school. The technical skill it must take to make them is beyond me I’m afraid, so I can’t shed any light on how this is done, but what I can say is that Sam’s style has the winning formula of hilarious, addictive and brand new. Every face-crease, every stomach bulge, every wobbly bit is so over-pronounced, and moves as if it’s full of goo. I’ve never seen anything quite like this before, have you? You can see the inspiration behind these little guys over on Sam’s entertaining and brilliant blog. It’s also worth saying that anyone who codes a fried egg GIF on to their cursor is post-worthy in my book.