Frozen fingers hold tight smartphones, compact cameras, digital cameras, with or without tripods, together with boyfriend/girlfriend, family, maps of the city and sometimes bicycles.
Spanish, Indian, and all the most varied multicultural British communities crowded in the streets of London for four days in a row, from the 14th to 17th this month, to attend the biggest lights event ever seen in the Capital.
Glittering color-changing dresses, an elephant stuck between two buildings in Regent Street, empty and water-filled plastic bottles enlightened to form heart, star, and man shapes. These were some of the installations prepared by world’s artists working with lights.
We were waiting for this free art exhibition since first announced. From 6:30 pm, the installations were switched on, and the streets lights reduced, in order to firstly enjoy the shining artworks against the dark night sky, and to secondly save power and limit pollution.
Artichoke is a charity whose aim is to bring big artistic events to the street, free from closed spaces and available to all. The organization produced Lumiere London – bringing the festival to the South after its first appearance in 2009 in Durham – with the support of the Mayor of London and many other partners.
If your shoes were among the many squashing on the mud in Grosvenor Square, you would have had the chance to sit on a blue/pink/yellow bench – quite a rare opportunity, it is to be said, despite the many parks in London. Or maybe during your evening in Chinatown, you may have found you and your friends walking among tall illuminated plants, which recreated a tropical summer in the cold Leicester Square.
Helen Marriage, Artichoke Director and curator of Lumiere London, said: “Using London’s buildings as their canvas and its streets as their auditorium, these installations are not hidden away behind the closed doors of art institutions, theatres or concert halls, but sit firmly in the public realm for everyone to enjoy.”
From the neon-version of 11th century proverbs on the Piccadilly Arcade, to the garbage “Eighth-Continent” floating in one of the Trafalgar Square’s fountain, to the Circus of Light’s animation on the Granary-Building wall at King’s Cross.
People enjoyed the nights out, looking at the magnificent artworks whose display transformed the ordinary landscape of the city centre.
“The lights go out,” as Coldplay sing, but they leave the memory of a fairy tale world for four nights in the hustling London.
Lumiere London official website: http://www.visitlondon.com/lumiere
Lumiere London Full Programme (with details of the single installations): http://cdn.londonandpartners.com/visit/whats-on/special-events/lumiere/lumiere-london-press-release-programme-information-15th-january.pdf
Artichoke Trust website: http://www.artichoke.uk.com/