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Oxfordshire upbringing inspires torch designer
AS the London 2012 torch makes its way through Oxfordshire on its continuing quest to reach the capital, it seems fitting to know that it was a childhood spent in the county which helped inspire the torch’s symbolic design.
Witney-born industrial designer Jay Osgerby, 41, won a national contest to design the Olympic torch.
The “incredibly proud” Mr Osgerby saw off competition from more than 1,000 other competitors to win the commission to design the torch, 8,000 of which will be carried around the country.
He said the 8,000 circular perforations represented the 8,000 bearers who will carry the torch 8,000 miles around the UK, while the torch’s three sides represent the number of times London has hosted the games – in 1908, 1948 and now 2012.
But he explained it was a childhood growing up in Witney, and studying at Oxford Brookes University that helped him discover the design world, in which he is now well known.
He said: “I knew as a child that I wanted to do something in creative arts, but I had no idea what it was going to be.
“I was fascinated with making things and drawing, so I did a foundation course to build that into a particular direction.
“I learned painting, drawing and photography over that year at Oxford Brookes, and that helped me decide that I wanted to specialise in industrial design.”
Mr Osgerby, who went on to study at London’s Royal College of Art, added: “Oxford has always been a source of inspiration.
“It offers opportunities for peace and reflection, as well as inspiration. There’s very few places that do that.
“I spent a lot of my childhood in the Ashmolean and the Pitt Rivers, which is the most amazing museum in the country and somewhere you cannot help but be inspired.”
Mr Osgerby, who was made a Royal Designer in 2008, studied for his A-Levels at Henry Box School, in Witney. His family still live in west Oxfordshire.
On winning the competition, Mr Osgerby added: “It was one of those moments I will never forget.
“It is our chance to represent our country in design terms.”
Mr Osgerby was awarded an honorary degree by Oxford Brookes University last month and brought a torch to the ceremony.
Lord Coe, chairman of the London 2012 organising committee, said: “I am thrilled we have a beautifully designed, engineered and crafted torch for them (the bearers) to carry.”