London was awash with colour this weekend, as several major tourist destinations across the city were lit up by both static and interactive art installations. From alien-like creatures descending over the intersection between Oxford Street and Regent Street to small LED nest-boxes playing birdsong as you walked past, there was a lot of fun to be had in this free event.
My evening began in a crush at King’s Cross where the UAL building was illuminated by a circus-themed light show, but you could beat the crowds by taking in the reflective ‘binary waves’ installation on the canal.
Children queued to grab ‘lightsticks’ or wands which they could use to make light graffiti on the boulevard floor.
Although not necessarily part of the Lumiere festival, King’s Cross also had the attractions of it’s resident ‘I.F.O.’ (Identified Flying Object) and the light tunnel connecting the boulevard to the underground station. KX also had one of three dresses, as designed by Tae Gon Kim.
The rain was holding off, so it was a great evening to walk the city – and again dodge the crowds which were causing some of the installations to be switched off temporarily.
Arriving at Oxford Street, the showstoppers soon presented themselves – firstly, the ‘1.8 London’ installation (see below and first image at top of page) immediately above Oxford Circus tube station. Hung from all sides and flashing with beautiful iridescent colours, it represents the 1.8 microseconds that the earth’s rotation sped up by following the Japanese tsunami of 2011. The shape is the same as that shockwave, as detected by NASA.
Around Regent Street, there were several other lightshows being played on buildings but they were more for the eyes than the cameras, as the rain began to come down.
Moving onto Mayfair and Grosvenor Square, more chilled out installations including a huge cinema screen playing ambient music to a psychedelic backdrop. A good place to pause before hitting the mayhem of the West End again.
Carnaby Street was bustling with activity as always, happy in it’s perpetual bubble away from the rest of the city.
Just as the heavens began to open fully, another highlight on Regent Street and Piccadilly – ‘Les Luminéoles’ by Porté par le vent. Floating and swaying down the thoroughfares like otherworldly fish, these beautiful elemental designs were stunning.
Racing against time now, trying to beat the 10:30 deadline…down past Piccadilly Circus and the fantastic 3-D elephant poking through the archway of Air Street…
And the BAFTA building on Piccadilly itself, emblazoned with painted versions of stars of stage and screen…below is John Hurt.
Finally, the walk down to Westminster Abbey…where the abbey front was shining with ‘The Light Of The Spirit’ by Patrice Warrener. A stunning colour show with which to end the evening.
This was the first year that London has held the Lumiere festival, which began in Durham in 2009 – and surely not be the last one! Such a fantastic night, and well worth braving the crowds and the elements.
For more information, please visit the Lumiere site here.