Lumiere London hits the capital for four evenings in January, (14th-17th) from 6:30pm – 10:30pm every night. Iconic buildings are transformed with 3D projections and pop up lights adorn the streets. I went on the opening night, so here’s how I found the evening…
Sanctuary by Sarah Blood
Twelve neon birdhouses are nestled within Brown Hart Gardens; a sound track of bird song accompanies them. The birdhouses are said to represent a need for protection against the harsh Winter, whilst the bird song is a sign that Spring is on its way. The houses looked sweet, but it was a little bare. I was expecting to see a little more going on, but it was nice to photograph.
Spinning Night in Living Colour by Elaine Buckholtz
This art installation is an iconic painting reimagined. To create this, Van Gogh’s painting All Night Café was sampled with a shaking video camera, and transformed into a series of moving line paintings. A sound track accompanied the piece, which was a slight eerie piece of music. Kind of like a tribal call!
Light benches by Bernd Spiecker
This light bench is a unique resting point that transforms the concept of public seating. Hundreds of LED lights light up the bench, changing from blue to green, to pink and purple. The idea was first thought up in 1982, and now Spiecker plans on making 100 more across the world, to help bring people together in conversation.
Brothers & Sisters by Ron Haselden
Everyday sketches have been turned into sculptures of light. This installation is based on drawings by school children from the Isle of Dogs in London. The portraits of siblings have been transformed into sculptures made of LED embedded light-rope. This is one of my favourite light sculptures, they were lovely to photograph and the colours work so well together.
Aquarium by Benedetto Bufalino & Benoit Deseille
The iconic red telephone box has been transformed into an aquarium full of exotic fish! How did they do this? I don’t even know. And the fish are 100% real before you ask. This is by far one of my favourite installations, it’s so fun and quirky!
Piccadilly, Regent Street and St Jame’s:
1.8 London by Janet Echelman / Studio Echelon
This is a web app and lighting design by Art AV; it’s an enormous net sculpture and is named after the impacts of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in 2011. The vibrations were so strong that the earthquake sped up the Earth’s rotation and shortened the day by 1.8 microseconds. This data was transformed into a 3D image and used to create the shape of this piece. Part of the roads around Oxford Circus are closed off, so you’re free to walk in the road to see it from every angle. This one changes colours from red to pink, blue to green and yellow to orange. It looks beautiful in every shade.
Keyframes by Groupe LAPS
This one is great fun to watch! Dancing stick men have taken over Liberty House with their part animation and part moving sculpture. There’s also a funky sound track to go alongside the animation, which reminds me of some kind of old game, like Pacman! Photos just doesn’t do this one any justice, so I’d recommend heading down to watch it!
Dresses by Tae Gon Kim
These dresses are staggered around London in 3 separate locations, but they’re all pretty similar. The dresses are in shop windows, and are made from fibre-optic LEDs. The dresses also change colour over time.
Shaida Walking. 2015 by Julian Opie
Shaida Walking premiered on the opening night (14th) and it will now be a permanent feature on Carnaby Street. The piece was inspired by how people walk. Opie filmed people walking on a treadmill at 50 frames a second, and created the piece using LED technology on a home made cabinet.
Eléphantastic! by Topla-design © Catherine Garret
This piece is inspired by the imagination of an elephant being lost in a busy city. The illusion is up on a building, and the elephant appears from a cloud of dust, making his way slowly through the archways. A jungle soundtrack accompanies the piece and fills the street with jungle noises.
Luminéoles by Porté par le vent
This one is also one of my favourites. Brightly coloured fish, lit by LEDs, gracefully float and swoop through the air. Beautiful lanterns are hung around the street, and exotic flower lanterns line the road. Porté took inspiration from light and what it can create; using this to transform everyday locations into atmospheric dreamlands. A soft oriental soundtrack also accompanies this one.
195 Piccadilly by NOVAK
This installation was fun to watch. Watercolour images cover the building, accompanied by an Ed Carter soundtrack which is inspired by classic sounds that helped define genres of film and television shown. I must admit, I didn’t recognise many of the people that were there, but my parents did. So perhaps this one is aimed at a slightly older generation! Still good to watch though.
I Haven’t Changed My Mind in a Thousand Years by Beth J Ross
Whilst in Durham Cathedral’s library, Ross discovered 11th-century manuscripts full of proverbs. Ross took inspiration from these still relevant quotes, and re-wrote them in neon lights. This neon artwork gives a nod to wisdom from past to present. This ones split up into two sections – once you’ve read one you can walk under the arches to find the other. Or like us, walk around the houses to find it…
Les Voyageurs (The Travellers) by Cédric Le Borgne
Human forms illuminate against the night sky. They are scattered around the West End; sitting on rooftops, frozen mid-air in flight and perched on the edge of buildings. Cedric Le Borgne took inspiration from the connection of the sky and ground, between dream and reality. These lights are nestled away but are presented so beautifully. It’s in a really peaceful square and they’re lovely to photograph.
Trafalgar Square and Westminster:
Plastic Islands by Luzinterruptus
This one is slightly bizarre, but there’s a message behind it. The piece is inspired by marine litter which is currently polluting the North Pacific Ocean. It makes a comment on the alarming rate that rubbish is taking over our oceans and seas, and the lack of action to tackle this problem. Another fountain was lit up by LED lights, but I’m unsure of its relevance.
These ginormous LED lights are temporarily positioned in Trafalgar Square, the Centre Point Lights have travelled from their former home on top of the Centre Point building to play a central role in Lumiere. These three-metre high neon lights are visible day and night for miles around in their original home, offering a reassuring navigational aid for everyone in London. Plenty of people were grabbing the opportunity to take photos beside them but I personally wan’t all that impressed with the installations at Trafalgar Square.
Neon Dogs by Deepa Mann-Kler
These 12 neon balloon-inspired dogs are nestled into a shop front, so keep your eyes peeled for it. It’s created to bring out the big kid in all of us.
Garden of Light by TILT
This is by far my favourite installation of them all. Giant illuminated plants are reaching up towards the sky, bringing a taste of tropical weather to wintry January. Recycled materials were used to create these installations. I’m not going to give much of this one away as there’s so much to see, but Leicster Square is lit up beautifully with bright vibrant colours. Don’t miss this one!
IFO by Jacques Rival
A giant bird cage is placed just outside King’s Cross station, it’s 9 meters tall and is adorned with bright neon lights. You can walk through the bars and there’s even a swing in the centre to go on. This unusual object is actually a permanent piece in the King’s Cross area now. It was originally designed to be positioned in the sky using a crane.
Joining The Dots by Clearly Connolly
These abstract dots are hard photograph, as it’s a moving installation. It’s based on the human body form and how we move. This piece was created by dressing actors in black in a dark space, with lamps on their joints. These points were narrowed down to thirteen moving points on the head, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees and ankles. The data was then used to create this! It’s best to see in person, as photos doesn’t do it any justice.
binaryWaves by LAB[au]
40 illuminated panels line the canal by King’s Cross, each measured at 3 meters in height. Infrared sensors captured the invisible flows of information that surrounds us from mobile phones, radios and cars. This was then transformed into a unique display of light, sound and colour.
Circus of Light by Ocubo
A giant big top show is projected onto the side of UAL, for a show featuring acrobats, jugglers, dancers and performers. It lasts for around 5 minutes from start to finish, and its good fun to watch. A super loud soundtrack accompanies it so you definitely won’t have trouble finding this one!
Litre of Light by Mick Stephenson, Central Saint Martins, UAL, MyShelter Foundation
Lumiere London is a celebration of light in all its forms, but for many people access to light is a luxury. This installation was designed to show that anything can create a source of light.
Diver by Ron Haselden
An illuminated figure, diving from a height of 17 meters high, can be seen from a viewing platform at King’s Cross. You can see this installation from afar, but it’s good to get a good view from the viewing platform that they have built. The installation is moving, so I’m so happy I managed to grab a shot of it all lit up! You can also walk around the installation to get a closer look.
Over all, I had a wonderful evening exploring London and seeing the installations put together by Lumiere. The installations are light up between 6:30pm and 10:30pm. I thought 4 hours was ample time but it took a lot longer that I thought to find them. This is probably down to the fact we aren’t 100% familiar with London, so I’m sure if you know your roads, you’ll get this done in no time! You can take public transport but its suggest on foot is best, which I agree with. There’s a map on the website that you can follow, and stewards are all over London ready to help you out with finding where everything is!
My favourite installations were the ones at Oxford Circus and Leicster Square. They were the most extravagant and exciting to look around. If you’ve got some free time between 14th-17th I’d 100% recommend a visit to London to see the festival! Stick on some decent walking shoes and wrap up warm; we hit over 17,000 steps exploring London!