Like a lot of humans out there, I have a healthy (maybe not so much) fascination with lights. Be it fairy, orb or string lights, I get a little bit of a kick watching them. Being a student of the Arts, I also have a healthy fascination with art. From galleries to installations and anything that gives a good show really. When I heard about Lumiere London, I knew it would be right down my alley. So what am I talking about you ask? This festival was produced by Artichoke and supported by the Mayor of London. It was only around for four evenings so the window to see it wasn’t too wide. It was a host of international artists illuminating the city from 6:30 pm to 10:30 pm each night with their gargantuan light installations.
Architecture and landmarks all over the city were given a new lease on life with 3D projections, interactive installations and other light forms. Hence, on the coldest night I experienced since coming to London, Eamon and I made our way to central London. Purely to get a view of these bad boys. We went in a big group, which maybe wasn’t such a good idea. We all ended up losing each other anyway. Learn from my mistake, if you ever want to see street installations in London, no group bigger than four will do.
We decided to go to Piccadilly, Regent Street and St James’s installations. The organisers had published a map of the installations and we had decided these were the best ones to see. First of all, we started at Leicester square station and moved our way to the Garden of Light by TILT. This was the first installation of this route and wow, did we start with a bang! This French collective uses recycled materials to create their installations. This particular piece was a self-explanatory garden of lights and it took my breath away. The centrepiece was a life-sized tree of lights surrounded by an assortment of flowers and reeds, it was something you could imagine would be in a storybook. It was marvellous.
We then moved on from this to Picadilly circus where we were greeted by enormous flying fish. Ethereal blimps shaped like fish. They were floating in the air, changing colours and accompanied by entrancing music. It was hard to take your eyes away from these dreamlike creatures ebbing and flowing to the movement of the wind. Everyone was completely mesmerised and it is no wonder, this part of the street was completely packed with people, all looking up at the mystical beasts in the air.
My favourite piece of the whole night was, 1.8 London by Janet Echelman / Studio Echelman, named after one of the astonishing impacts of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in 2011. You can read more about this installation here, but this is what I have to say about it. It composed of a net-like structure, lit up and totally cosmic. The audience was invited to interact with the piece by logging on to the Lumiere website, here they could choose what was depicted on this floating installation hovering above our heads. It reminded me of a cloud and was very calming, the way the colours faded in and out, the way patterns emerged on the netting and the gentle sway of the net in the breeze, made one feel completely at ease watching it. It was absolutely breathtaking.
There were other amazing pieces, scattered all through London, but these were my favourite. If you would like to read more about the different features, you can click here. Needless to say, I will definitely make more of an effort to step outside and see more of these amazing art installations that London affords us. Come rain or shine!