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17 Jan 2016

Out & About: Lumiere London

This weekend, G and I went and checked out the Lumiere light festival that was taking place in London for four nights. For those of you who haven't heard, from Thursday-Sunday this week, over thirty locations in London have been lit up by light installations created by various artists. When stuff like this pops up, I always think it's important to go have a nose over because these random, quirky things are one of the benefits of being in London. Plus, in January, everything is grey and we're all skint and then suddenly the city is lit up with hundreds of lights and, more importantly, it's FREE. Guaranteed way to improve those January blues. So on Saturday night, we dressed ourselves in plenty of layers, and headed on out.

The light installations were in four main areas; Mayfair, Trafalgar Square & Westminster, Piccadilly, Regent's Street & St James's and King's Cross. We attempted to download the app but it refused to load, perhaps because several people were trying to do the same, so we just stuck to a good old-fashioned map. We started at Trafalgar Square, where we saw the Neon Dogs by Deepa Mann-Kler (above), the Centre Point Lights and the Plastic Islands by Luzinterruptus (below).

Not gonna lie, at this point, I was thinking 'erm, what?' I'd been hearing a lot of good things about this festival and I was stood in the freezing cold looking at some plastic bottles in a fountain. It was an art feature, I get it, but one really needs more than that to persuade them that wandering around in icy conditions is more preferable than a cosy evening spent on the sofa in pjs. My mood did improve as we walked to Westminster Abbey though. It was nice to stroll around London without the need to rush and I can't help but still get that tourist-like excitement when I see the London Eye and Big Ben up close, even though I've seen them a million times before.

Westminster Abbey bathed in multi-colour (The Light of the Spirit by Patrice Warrener) got me all excitable because there was definitely a magical quality about it. Suddenly I was energised to go marching through the cold streets and see what else there was to see!
We headed to St James's Square next where these eerie, yet serene, fellas have set up camp (Les Voyageurs [The Travellers] by Cédric Le Borgne)

Everywhere you turned, there were sparkling, anonymous figures flying above your head, watching you from the tops of buildings and floating from trees. I found them equally transfixing and creepy! 
  Their eyes followed us as we headed to Piccadilly where roads were CLOSED to traffic. It went against all instincts to walk in the middle of a London road but it was necessary to view some of the lights. There was 195 Piccadilly by NOVAK, projected onto the side of a building and using images from the BAFTA's archive to explore cinema genres; Les Luminéoles by Porté par le vent, dreamy fish-like creatures (there's a phrase I never thought I'd use) floating above your head and a 3D elephant, although he had his back to us, and so didn't get the privilege of my camera. 

As we moved towards Regent Street, we came across my favourite feature; Keyframes by Groupe LAPS / Thomas Veyssiére, where stick men danced on the side of Liberty House through the clever use of lighting effects. It was mesmerising.

As we got to Oxford Circus, we stood under this enormous net structure, called 1.8 London by Janet Echelman.

This structure was named after the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in 2011 which shortened that day by 1.8 microseconds and actually sped up the earth's rotation! Using data from NASA, this was turned into a 3D image which was the basis for this beautiful colour-changing piece.

After a quick Costa pit-stop where we ate toasties and regained feeling in our toes, we took a walk up to King's Cross station where there was a multi-coloured bird cage, a sparkly dress and a giant game of join the dots.

Identified Flying Object by Jacques Rival

Joining the Dots by Cleary Connolly

Dresses by Tae gon KIM

Finally, we hit Granary Square, behind St Pancras, where there was another feature projected onto the side of a building - Circus of Light by Ocubo.

G and I both thought that they'd missed a trick by not using the water feature that is usually on in Granary Square (which you can see in this post) but I did enjoy the Circus of Light show.

We also looked down the canal where there was the binaryWaves by LAb[au] which was more of a subtle piece but did look pretty reflected on the water. 

By this point it was snowing and my feet hurt like you wouldn't believe. Sadly, after five hours out in January, no amount of layers can stop you feeling the cold (whhyyy didn't I have a hat?) so we decided we were light-festivaled out. But, on our way to the station, we stumbled on our final light feature, Light Graffiti by Floating Pictures. A big crowd of people were stood under a light and going all giggly. It was ridiculous but the moment you stepped under the graffiti-style rainbow, you too had a sudden child-like energy. It was just what was needed to end the night on a smile! Or a big cheesy grin in my case...

Check out more info on the festival here

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