London Life: Lumiere London 2016

Last weekend, despite the chilly temperatures, Rob and I ventured out and treated ourselves to some spectacular sights in the form of Lumiere London. We started near Waterstones Piccadilly after work on Friday – it sounds like we avoided the worst of the crowds by doing so – and we managed to see some fantastic illuminated light-and-sound outdoor art, although we didn’t travel to see things that were further away. I think we’ll try to tick everything off if it happens again.

Lumiere London ran from 14-17 January, and was a project run by a creative company called Artichoke, who have created Lumiere events in Durham and elsewhere – the website is here if you’d like to take a look. Our walk took us in a loop around a few different installations, and I snapped some of my favourites.

We watched the video loop ‘195 Piccadilly’ by NOVAK first, then walked back along towards Piccadilly Circus to look at what I thought looked like flying fish, ‘Lumenéoles’ by Porté par le vent. These were so much fun, but also a little otherworldly, as they bobbed up and down in the air outside Waterstones Piccadilly, and I took quite a few pictures…

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We then headed to Leicester Square, past the back of ‘Elephantastic!’, to where TILT had transformed the centre of the square into the most beautiful ‘Garden of Light’. I only wish this could stay all year round, it was completely magical, because of the lights but also the scale – I felt like Alice in Wonderland amongst the giant glowing snowdrops and delicate pink paper roses.

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We then headed back to Regent Street via Chinatown, for a change, and started to walk up Regent Street towards Oxford Circus. We saw the front view of ‘Elephantastic!” – there was some very realistic trumpeting and at least one child insisting to a parent that the elephant was real – but we carried on until we found ‘Keyframes’ by Groupe LAPS.

Keyframes by Groupe LAPS

This was mounted on Liberty House, and looks like it’s animated, because different lighting tubes light up in sequence, creating the illusion that the stick people are running, jumping and chasing each other, as in a computer game. It was surprisingly exciting waiting to see if they were going to be able to make it all the way around.

Finally, we ended up at Oxford Circus, where ‘1.8 London’ by Janet Echelman/Studio Echelman is suspended. It’s very strange and beautiful, and I’ve seen a couple of people say that it reminds them of a starling murmuration, but I’ve learned from the information online that it is named after one of the effects of the 2011 Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami – according to the London Lumiere site, “Such was the strength of the vibrations, the earthquake momentarily sped up the earth’s rotation and shortened that day by 1.8 microseconds. Using data from NASA, Studio Echelman turned this phenomenon into a 3D image, the basis of which was used to create the shape of this piece.” It’s also inspired in its construction by fishing nets, which is why you get incredible interference patterns when taking pictures of it.

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We had a fascinating evening and I hope that Lumiere London happens again, as I’d love to see some more of these wonderful installations a bit further afield. I’d recommend warming up with a hot meal afterwards – we opted for Pho in Balham…

Pho chay with king prawns
Pho chay (tofu and button mushrooms) with king prawns

Kate / @magic_kitten

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