Lumiere London 2016

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I visited all thirty of the illuminated art installations in the Lumiere London exhibition last night. Lumiere London is a free-to-visit four-day event held in four main locations in the city of London (Westminster, Soho, Mayfair, and King's Cross). The exhibition started on Thursday night (the 14th of January) and continues until the 17th; Sunday is your last night to see the lights. The lights switch on at 6:30pm and switch off at 10:30pm. Quite a few of these were mesmorising, and I encourage you to see it. However, prepare to dress warmly with gloves and warm coats and comfortable walking shoes as it was so cold on Thursday night and is due to get even colder. Also be prepared for crowds. Thursday night was busy but manageable.


Lumiere London is produced by Artichoke and supported by Mayor of London. Artichoke started Lumiere by bringing it to Durham in 2009; it runs every other year and attendance grows each time. In 2013, it travelled to Londonderry for its City of Culture year. This is the first year it has come to London. It is a welcome event for this time as year as the holiday season has come to an end and there's a lack of colour. I've read somewhere that it's also considered the most depressing time of the year, so an event like this is perfect.

The Light of the Spirit by Patrice Warrener

The Light of the Spirit by Patrice Warrener

My first stop was to Westminster Abbey where I waited as I arrived early. This projection onto the abbey facade illuminates the beautiful architecture that we often do not notice. The colours of the statues are design was constant, but the colours of the abbey on both sides changed from solid colours to different sections in colour, and some of the examples can be seen above. Varying shades of green, blue, pink, purple, red, orange, yellow, and white were projectd onto the abbey and each colour faded into the next.

Plastic Islands by Luzinterruptus

This installation is inspired by the large floating area of debris in the ocean where the ocean's currents have pushed it together. The fountain at Trafalgar Square is transformed into an illuminated floating plastic bottle bin. I think this piece highlights that we need to recycle plastic and consume less.

Neon Dogs by Deepa Mann-Kler

This installation features neon lights in the shape of balloon dogs and bones. It was inspired by the balloons at children's parties and is meant to bring a smile to the viewer's face. I loved the piece, but I was disappointed in the set-up inside the unwashed windows of Coutts Bank on the Strand. The neon dogs were each in one of five panel windows and difficult to see all together. Above is one of the separate panels.

Centre Point Lights

These lights have been removed from the top of the Centre Point building at Tottenham Court Road. People (myself included) have often used this building and those lights to know their location or direction in the city. The lights have only been temporarily removed to show at this exhibition while work is being completed on the building.

Garden of Lights by TILT

This illuminated garden featuring giant flowers and plants of different colours and shapes transforms Leicester Square into a glowing paradise. The reeds around Shakespeare's statue seem like it is a swamp area, and the warm glow of the lights makes winter seem far away. I loved this installation, but the square was so busy and it is difficult to take photographs to show how beautiful it was and how it felt to be there.

Elephantastic! by Topla-design 

This fantastic installation shows an elephant in the archways high above the buildings on the southern end of Regent Street. The elephant moves, stomps to bring dust up, swishes its tail, and raises its trunk to  trumpet. There are additional jungle sounds and sounds of the elephant moving and stomping. On the opposite side of the archway, the back of the elephant can be seen. This projection made it appear that there really was an elephant high up in the archway.

Les Luminéoles by Porté par le vent

Piccadilly Street came to live with these illuminated floating and glowing fish-like creatures. As the three fish were raised and lowered by their handlers, their fins swirled behind them in the air. Glowing lanters also blocked off the area where they could float in the sky. The fish also changed colour from gold to purple to blue to green. In addition, sound was also played along this stretch of the street to set the atmosphere for these luminous creatures. Unfortunately, they were a pain to photograph due to the sheer volume of visitors, street furniture, cables, and the way they moved. I'm sure I could have gotten better photographs if I hung around and waited for the right moment, used other camera settings, and found the right place, though. 

195 Piccadilly by NOVAK

195 Piccadilly by NOVAK

This mural is projected onto the BAFTA building on Piccadilly Street. It features footage of all genres found in the archives. The building was originally the Royal Society of Watercolour Painters, so the animation between images of the actors are done in an artistic way. Sometimes, blocks of colour appear to be 'thrown' onto the canvas that is the building, and these colours 'drip' down, or appear to be painted across the building in long strokes. This is all set to classical music. The above is a small selection of the artwork projected, and this artwork was constantly changing with new 'strokes' being added with new portraits and shapes appearing.

I haven't changed my mind in a thousand years by Beth J. Ross

The text on both sides of the arcade was taken from a book of proverbs that the artist discovered in Durham Cathedral. She had her son rewrite these words before transforming them into neon lights. 

Les Voyageurs (The Travellers) by Cédric Le Borgne

These illuminated human sculptures are located all around St. James' Square. Some are perched on the rooftops of the buildings in the square and others are suspended in mid-air while others appear to be floating or falling from tree branches. I was told by one of the guides that there are eleven of these sculptures to be discovered in the square; I only managed to locate ten. This work encourages visitors to look around them to try to find the illuminated beings.

Aquarium by Benedetto Bufalino & Benoit Deseille

The iconic red telephone box has been transformed into an aquarium. The artists wish us to dream about exotic locations to escape everyday lives. 

Spinning Night in Living Colour by Elaine Buckholtz

This piece is inspired by taking Van Gogh's All Night Café painting and spinning it. Video and light and sound is used to encourage visitors to sit down and look at the colours glow. The installation includes an original sound score by Floor van de Velde and Elaine Buckholtz, and this is based on a slowed-down version of Béla Bartók's Romanian Folk Dance no.3.

Lightbenches by Bernd Spiecker for LBO LichtBankObjekte

The concept of this installation is to create a conversation piece to bring people together. The typical bench and light are combined to create the illuminated bench. The bench changes colour gradually to other colours, such as blue, red, purple, and yellow.

Brothers & Sisters by Ron Haselden

This installation was created based on images of school children from the Isle of Dogs, London. The work grows as it travels to new places and other children are encouraged to contribute it.

Dissect I and Dissect II by Sarah Blood

These illuminated cubes show off the form and space and invite the viewer to climb the stairs to take a look at other illuminated works.

Sanctuary by Sarah Blood

There are twelve of these illuminated birdhouses, from which bird sounds emit. The sounds appear to 'speak' between the different houses. The bird sounds ('caw caw') are created by humans, and the sounds did create some laughter with some other visitors.

Keyframes by Group LAPS

These dancing stick men have a story to tell, and music is used while they climb up and somersault down the facade of the building. They seem to chase each other around the building as they tell their story. This iteration consisted of a little stick man at the bottom jumping up to touch the others and make them disappear, as in a video game, and video game music and noises were included. This was very fun to watch and the crowd seemed pleased.

Shaida Walking 2015 by Julian Opie

This new artwork was created to premiere at London Lumiere, and it features a woman walking. The glowing woman is on a pedestal like a statue that appears to move. This work is similar to neon signs but makes the subject appear to be one of us.

London by Janet Echelman 

This is a beautiful installation strung between buildings at Oxford Circus. The net-like sculpture floats above the streets and moves slightly in the breeze, always changing shape slightly. The sculpture also appears completely different from different angles, and it gradually changes colour. This piece was created based on the Japanese tsunami and is built on the model reprsented from NASA data about how Earth's rotation was sped up and how that day was shortened by 1.8 microseconds. The structure is also inspired based on fishing nets used in India. Visitors are encouraged to play with the colours projected onto the piece using technology when they are at the artwork by going to a special WiFi network and typing in a website address.

Platonic Spin by Nathaniel Rackowe

This animated cube animates in three sections. One at a time, each pane lights up until the whole form is lit. It is suspended in mid-air.

Joining the Dots by Cleary Connolly

This illuminated projection actually symbolises the human form as a series of dots showing where the joints would be. The dots move around the building. These are based on actors doing tasks such as running, walking, swimming, and dancing. The viewer is encouraged to determine if they are male or female, young or old. 

IFO (Unidentified Flying Object) by Jacques Rival

IFO (Unidentified Flying Object) by Jacques Rival

This giant birdcage is lit all the way around, and the neon colours gradually circle around and change. Viewers are encouraged to walk inside where there is a swing to swing on. This is a permanent installation. It was initially meant to be raised in the sky on a crane, but it will rest permanently in this square at King's Cross and act as an urban playing area.

Pipette by Miriam Sleeman, Tom Sloan, Allies & Morrison, Spiers + Major

This installation is a permanent one at King's Cross, which is currently being redeveloped. Colours are projected onto an illuminated wall. 

Light Graffiti by Floating Pictures

This interactive artwork combines different colours of light and visitors can 'draw' in the light using a special torch, which acts as a spray can. 

binaryWaves by LAB[au]

This installation is a group of several panels which uses electromagnetic waves from mobile phones and cars to create light out of these waves around us that we normally would not see. The lights continuously change.

Litre of Light by Mick Stephenson

This installation discusses the importance of light and how light can change lives. In developing and war-torn countries, this is a solution that has helped the disadvantage. Creating light using water, a plastic bottle, and a drop of bleach helps to refract the light. This installation shows this in action with members of the team speaking to the visitors about this solution in more detail.

Spectra-3 by

This is a moving installation that combines light and sound. The satellite dish moves 360 degrees, and the mirrors are attached to the front where light is reflected and creates shapes on visitors and the walls and ceiling.

Diver by Ron Haselden

This illuminated diver was inspired by the work of schoolchildren who were asked to draw the Olympic games. The diver takes on different poses before plunging into the pond below. Each pose is lit up as the diver nears the ground, and all figures are illuminated at the end.

Circus of Light by Ocubo

A circus is performed on the side of a building at King's Cross, and the architecture of the building is often used in the circus performance. This piece really made me feel that I was at the circus.

Dresses by Tae Gon Kim

A series of illuminated dresses were placed around Soho and King's Cross. Each one is unique, and they all gradually change colour. Unfortunately, I kept capturing the blue colour, but I saw the dresses appear in all other colours, and they looked stunning.


Candy floss (cotton candy) light sticks were given out for visitors who saw all of the illuminations at King's Cross. Be sure to pick up a paper at the visitor centre. At each attraction, the visitor asks for a stamp so they can claim the free glowing candy floss. I actually did not know about this until I asked someone with one where they got the candy floss from, and they told me. I then convinced the lady inside the centre that I had been to all illuminations at King's Cross (which I had), so I was able to go inside a rave tent where people were dancing and where a lady dressed all in pink was creating the candy floss light sticks. 

I recommend visiting Lumiere London over the next three days. You can also separate the walk into two sections in order to cut down the miles walked and do the walking at a more leisurely pace. You can quite easily see all in an evening, though. If you do want to break it up into two nights, you could see all of the ones in King's Cross on one night and all the ones in Soho/Westminster/Mayfair on another night. All locations have some brilliant not-to-miss pieces. Hopefully this guide can allow you to determine which ones you particularly wish to see.

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