Top 10 Highlights of London’s Lumiere Festival

Derek Robertson, January 2018

Technically, we’ve already passed winter’s longest day – the 21st December – and nights are now officially getting shorter, but there’s something about the dark of January that can be overbearing and repressive; drab, miserable weather, summer but a dot on the horizon, and not a public holiday in sight until Easter. Yet behold!

The Lumiere Festival, where local and international artists are invited to light public buildings and spaces over four nights, is here to shine some brightness on the year’s harshest month. Here is our guide to the 10 best installations, and where to find them.

Trio Of Orbs (Park Plaza London Waterloo)
Located in the perfect place from which to explore the whole festival, the Park Plaza London Waterloo will host a month-long installation of three light inspired Orbs by award winning sculptor Mark Beattie. Cool blue, a blazing red, and a soft pink, all wrapped in various metals, draw on the feelings of displacement and separation that come with travel while mimicking the very shape of our world. Taking pride of place in the hotel’s public spaces, they will be complimented by illuminated floral displays by Chic Flower Designs, the perfect start to some glow-in-the-dark sightseeing.

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Waterlicht (Kings Cross)
Ambitious, thoughtful, provocative. Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde’s transformation of Granary Square into an interactive flood of blue light waves is all of those things and more, exploring our relationship with water, climate change, and rising sea levels. There’s even accompanying soundtrack, accessible through the Festival’s official app with a smart phone.

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The Light Of The Spirit (Westminster Abbey)
The Gothic masterpiece that is Westminster Abbey is a stunning sight to behold at any time of day or year, but Patrice Warrener’s latest installation will light up the façade of the Great West Gate in new and distinctive ways. Using his unique chromolithe projection system, the martyr statuettes above the West Doors will be transformed by a kaleidoscope of technicolour brightness, shining a light on an easily missed architectural delight.

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Impulse (South Molton Street)
Inspired by the music of Steve Reich and Joy Divisions iconic album art for Unknown Pleasures, Lateral Office and CS Design’s illuminated seesaws will bring a playful air to Mayfair, exploring the visualization of sound through ideas of repetition and variation. Working collaboratively, participants will be able to create harmonies and patterns in both light and sound…plus it just looks like damn good fun. Image Credit : Ulysse Lemerise

Aether (Central Saint Martins, Kings Cross)
A glittering mass that rolls, grows, and splinters in time to a mesmerizing soundscape created by Max Cooper, Aether by the Architectural Social Club aims to fascinate and delight in equal measure. A large scale installation hanging from the roof, it showcases the collective’s desire to blur the boundaries between art, engineering, and design to create new forms of expression.

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Cosmoscope (Store Street, Fitzrovia)
A spectacular light sculpture by renowned artist Simeon Nelson, Cosmoscope could be many things: blood flowing through a heart; a universe; a pattern of atoms and molecules. Designed to help us contemplate our own place in the cosmos, this vast project reminds us of just how small we are, and the unfathomable scale of the universe we inhabit.

The Umbrella Project (Piccadily and Fitzrovia)

A pop-up, interactive installation, this project will use LED umbrellas wielded by members of Bristol-based Cirque Bijou alongside various community groups to create choreographed performance pieces at various times during the Festival. Precise times and locations will be announced closer to the day, and can be found by searching for #LumiereLDN on social media.

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OSC-L (South Bank)
The South Bank is set to get a new, vibrant skyline, as German visual artist Ulf Langheinrich lights up the National Theatre’s fly tower in a liquid stream of light, transforming it into a luminous, glowing column. The contrast with the stark, concrete brutalism of the Theatre will be quite the sight, particularly when viewed from Embankment and along the opposite bank of the Thames.

Northern Lights (Grosvenor Square)
The enchanting, otherworldly aurora borealis is the inspiration behind Aleksander Stratimirovic’s dynamic light-art piece installed over Grosvenor Sqaure. 100 vertically positioned light lines equipped with LEDs have been programmed with several “stories”, the movement of light interacting with the surroundings to create a drifting glow that dances before your very eyes.

Love Motion (Royal Academy of Arts)
A poetic dance. The frisson of love and romance. Elegance and charm. Rhys Coren is often inspired by the rhythms of music and dance, and this Matisse-inspired animation of two paper-cut figures gliding around and kissing will be projected across the Royal Academy of Arts’ building, their warm embraces a sweet response to the cold and dark of the night. Accompanied by a bespoke soundtrack, the installation aims to pay homage to the institution’s fine art traditions in a 21st Century way.

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