By Rachel Lankester.
If you were in London and lucky enough to catch Lumiere London in real life, you will have had at least one great night out that week. This innovative festival of light was so popular that tube stations had to be closed to regulate people traffic! Major roads were made pedestrian only and people flocked into town in their thousands to catch this free event. London at its best, putting on a clever, inspiring free event that was accessible for pretty much everyone. Truly a chance to see the city in a new light!
Major city centre locations were given the artistic light sculpture treatment and most of it was quite breathtaking. We started at Oxford Circus where on exiting the tube we were captivated by the beauty above strung up across the actual Oxford Circus crossroads. Called 1.8 London it was created by American artist Janet Echelman who ‘reshapes urban airspace with monumental, fluidly moving sculpture that responds to environmental forces including wind, water and sunlight’. Apparently it was inspired by fishing nets she first saw on a trip to India. You can find out more about Janet and her work in this TED talk.
A little way south down Regents Street we found these sprightly stick chaps dancing and leaping all over the Liberty building. One minute they were doing acrobatics, the next they were chasing each other around the façade of the building. Or were they characters in a video game? Such imaginative stories they told in their jumping. Called Keyframes, it was created by Groupe Laps. According to the programme, Groupe LAPS is a collective of artists based in France who are interested in using light in urban environments to tell stories creating technical pieces that enchant audiences. They certainly did that and this photo doesn’t really do them justice.
A bit further down Regent Street were these beautiful and ethereal creatures each with their own kite string holder helping them undulate gently above the crowds. Were they flying sea creatures? At least one voice was heard to shout that they looked like giant floating sperm! Beautiful they certainly were.
And then a seemingly life-size and certainly lifelike elephant hanging out between two pillars and trumpeting to the masses – Elephantastic!
At Leicester Square we discovered the Garden of Light, an oasis of giant flowers and plants through which you could wander at will.
In Trafalgar Square glowing rubbish filled the fountains forming floating shapes of plastic. Plastic Gardens was inspired by the ‘Eighth Continent‘ the Garbage Patch of marine litter that is accumulating in the North Pacific Ocean. It asks the viewer to consider just what is going to happen to the world’s oceans and marine life if we continue with our addiction to plastic.
And we didn’t even get to see all the installations in the Kings Cross area making up 30 different illuminations in total across central London. It was an illuminating evening in more ways than one!
Rachel Lankester is the founder and editor of the Mutton Club. She has a background in corporate communications and sustainability, and has found her passion helping women feel good about life at any stage and particularly midlife. She’s rather introverted but still has an awful lot she wants to communicate to the world!