“It better be good” I kept saying jokingly to my friends as we fought our way through the crowds on a freezing Saturday night in the middle of winter. And good it was. Excellent, I would say. Lumiere London brought magic to the streets of London and made us all look at our world with a fresh and more innocent pair of eyes.
Spreading from King’s Cross all the way to Westminster, the light installations at Lumiere London showcased the immense creativity of all artists involved. Special kudos go to the stewards who, with varying levels of patience, had to manage huge crowds walking at snail pace all wanting to take pictures and videos.
Walk Duration: more than 3 hours due to overcrowding.
We looked at the Lumiere London 2016 programme and decided that containing our walk to the West End was more than enough, so we didn’t even attempt to go to King’s Cross. It took us more than 3 hours to see the exhibition, as many venues were extremely crowded. You must consider that this is a 4 km walk that would normally take less than an hour at a medium pace.
All pictures credits: Paola Bassanese. One contributed picture by Patrick Orsini.
- Garden of Light in Leicester Square
- Luminéoles in Regent Street
My friends and I started our walk from Grosvenor Square (regrettably I never managed to take a close up of Aquarium by Benedetto Bufalino and Benoit Deseille)*. We had to queue and we were rushed to take pictures of the Lightbenches by Bernd Spiecker and Brothers & Sisters by Ron Haselden. Walking on the grass (aka 5 inch thick mud!) was verboten.
Spinning Light in Living Colour by Elaine Buckholtz attracted less attention but our group was really taken with the accompanying sound, a Gregorian choir type arrangement by Floor van de Velde and Elaine Buckholtz based on Béla Bartók’s Romanian Folk Dance no.3.
*Luckily Patrick Orsini sent me his close up of Aquarium.
Learn more about this installation:
Nearby Bond Street hosted two installations: Sanctuary and Dissect I and Dissect II by Sarah Blood. The viewing platform was too congested for my liking, so I stayed at street level, but my friends enjoyed the birdsong soundtrack.
Piccadilly Arcade and St James’s Square
Moving on to I Haven’t Changed My Mind in a Thousand Years by Beth J Ross at Piccadilly Arcade just off Jermyn Street, my patience ironically had started to wane, with the first snowflakes falling over London and temperatures dropping, while crowd numbers kept increasing. Nearby we saw Les Voyageurs by Cédric Le Borgne floating over Princess Arcade, Jermyn Street and St James’s Square.
Oxford Circus and Regent Street
And then we moved on to one of my personal highlights, the light displays in Oxford Circus and Regent Street.
Above Oxford Circus is 1.8 London by Janet Echelman, one of the symbols of Lumiere London. The installation changed colour based on an app, so you could decide how to manipulate the light patterns. This piece symbolised the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in 2011 (1.8 being the number of microseconds lost that day from the force of the earthquake speeding the Earth’s rotation).
Regent Street offered us the delights of Luminéoles by Porté par le vent, Keyframes by Groupe LAPS and Eléphantastic! by Topla-design. Luminéoles were these amazingly delicate and mesmerising flying fishes, also changing colour like 1.8 London. We were hypnotised by their elegant movements.
Piccadilly and Trafalgar Square
From there it was a short hop to 195 Piccadilly, were BAFTA is, with a beautiful projection of eminent figures in cinema and television. The soundtrack was composed by Ed Carter and the installation is called 195 Piccadilly by NOVAK.
The projection featured manipulated images overlaid with splashed of colour of Orson Welles Richard Attenborough, Michael Cane, Patrick Stewart, Steve McQueen, Brenda Blethyn, Mike Lee, Peter Capaldi and more.
We couldn’t find any installation in Pall Mall, which was advertised on our map. We actually found a couple of misprints on the map so we relied more on the Lumiere London app for navigation.
We took a quick look at Trafalgar Square’s Plastic Islands by Luzinterruptus and Centre Point Lights.
Leicester Square and Strand
The second and final highlight was Garden of Light by TILT in Leicester Square, obviously extremely popular with locals and tourists due to its location, but surprisingly easier to navigate than other sites. It had started snowing more heavily at that point and the atmosphere was very poetic. We loved the delicate white flowers, the snowdrops, well, everything about it really.
Finally, a super speedy pit stop at Neon Dogs by Deepa Mann-Kler.
Every time I go to the Strand I can’t help thinking of Roxy Music’s Do the Strand, so here it is.
All pictures credits: Paola Bassanese. No unauthorised distribution.
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