The first Lumiere London fesitval was this weekend, from 14 – 17 January. (So if you haven’t gone yet, be quick! Tonight’s the last night.) For four days, from 6:30 – 10:30pm each night, a number of art installations in Piccadilly, Regent Street and St James’s, Trafalgar Square and Westminster, Mayfair, and King’s Cross were lit up.
Jeff and I popped by on Friday night to check out the lights from Oxford Circus, down Regent Street, over to Piccadilly Circus, down to Leicester Square and then Trafalgar Square.
Here’s a picture diary of what we saw on the journey…
The first installation we saw was 1.8 London by Janet Echelman.
Echelman’s sculptures are inspired by fishing nets, which she first encountered during a trip to India.
This particular net sculpture is named 1.8 after one of the impacts of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in 2011: the strength of the vibrations from the earthquake was so much that they momentarily sped up the earth’s rotation and shortened that day by 1.8 microseconds.
To create this piece, Studio Echelman used data from NASA to build a 3D image of this phenomenon, which was then used to create the shape of the piece.
Visitors at this piece were also able to download an app that manipulated the light and patterns projected onto it.
Just around the corner from Oxford Circus, just before the bend on Regent Street, was Keyframes by Groupe LAPS.
Here LED figures jumped and ran and moved around the facade of Liberty House, dancing to music.
Many of the tracks played were from various games, and throughout the performance the LED characters presented playful personalities.
An element of storytelling was prominent with this instillation, which makes sense because Groupe LAPS is known for using light in urban environments to tell stories.
Next up were several of the fish from the Luminéoles by Porté par le vent.
The fish changed colours every now and again, and were controlled by (what I presume are called!) kite masters.
The fish dipped and dived and wiggled and swayed around the Piccadilly area, offering the effect of magical creatures with gentle personalities lingering in the skies.
It’s not often Piccadilly Circus is pedestrianised, and I couldn’t stop myself from snapping a quick pic of the crowds!
There were more of the fish from Luminéoles by Porté par le vent on the other side of the Piccadilly Circus roundabout, and like the others these also changed colours and explored the skies overhead.
From here we headed over to Leicester Square, where the gardens were lit up to become the Garden of Light by TILT.
According to Visit London: “TILT is a French collective that reclaim public space for their art. They create luminous, dreamlike structures using recycled materials processed to high technical production quality.”
I must have walked through these gardens a dozen times before as a shortcut from Chinatown to Trafalgar Square, but Friday night was the first time I really stopped to take in my surroundings.
And while I’d love to say that it was an eye opening experience or similar, I honestly just really enjoyed looking at the gorgeous lights that brought a magical feeling.
And, in a way, it kind of reminded me of wandering through Glastonbury at night!
For our final spot we went to Trafalgar Square, where the lights from the Centre Point building were placed in front of the National Gallery.
And those lights are MASSIVE. (In retrospect, I think I’d have liked to have posed for a snap with them to show the scale!)
From there we looked out on Plastic Islands by Luzinterruptus. It’s hard to tell in this picture (and on the night it was impossible to get close enough to take a photo to show the detail), but those lights are inside thousands of bottles floating in the water fountains in Trafalgar Square. This work comments on the amount of rubbish filling large areas of the Pacific Ocean and the lack of action to tackle this problem.
While it was very crowded throughout the exhibition, I think it’s the kind of thing to be expected when something new, exciting and free is offered in Central London. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed it and hope Lumiere London happens again another time!