The Lighter Side of Public Art with Lumiere London

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An outdoor art festival, Lumiere London, was staged for a brief four days in London this past weekend.  Previously it has been held in Durham in the north of England in November.  Located in four different locations throughout London, it was free to the public and featured the works of many different international artists.

Lumiere London public art

We went to see the art installations for Lumiere London at the Kings Cross location.  Located near Central St. Martins, the newly developed area has a lot of wide open space to accommodate large installations as well as the attending hordes.  The installations were spread across Granary Square, Goods Way and Kings Cross Station itself.

Lumiere London signs
Lit signs pointed you in the right direction.

My favourite installation was Litre of Light by Mick Stephenson, Central St. Martins, UAL and MyShelter Foundation. Located inside the Granary Square warehouse, the installation had several pieces as well as a learning component for the participants.

Lumiere London

It was fascinating to learn that you can create a simple solar light bulb by recycling a plastic bottle.  You fill it with water, add bleach and push it through a hole in the roof.  This technology, developed at MIT in the USA, has now been used to bring light bulbs to developing countries worldwide.

Lumiere London

At the exhibition, locals students coloured in the bottom of the plastic bottle to create a stained glass effect.

Lumiere London
Colouring in the bottom of the plastic bottles

The exhibition also showed visitors with children how light and electricity worked.

Lumiere London
Bailey from Dish Our Town learning about how it all works.

Further audience participation was encouraged by giving people lit bottles to hold and walk around with as they viewed the installation.

Lumiere London
a stained glass effect in the dark

Another cool interactive exhibition, Light Graffiti by Floating Pictures (a Swedish company) let people use torches to paint pictures on the ground using light.  Once the ground was full of colour, the slate was wiped clean and the participants could create a new and different piece of art.

lumiere London
Drawing Light Graffiti
Light graffiti
No two pieces will ever be the same.

A French-Korean artist, Tae Gon Kim, uses fibre optics and LED lights to create ghostly dresses.

Dress for Lumiere London
The ghostly LED lit dress is perfect for a haunted house party.

Identified Flying Object is a permanent piece in Kings Cross by French artist Jacques Rival.  It is a giant birdcage with a swing in the middle.  Needless to say, this artwork was very popular with the children.  I am curious how the London pigeons are going to react to a giant birdcage for them to decorate in their own special way.

Identified Flying object Lumiere London art installation
I know why the caged bird sings. To keep warm.

The flashiest of the pieces because of size and sound, Circus of Light by Portuguese company, Ocubo, always had hordes of people watching it.  It was a sound and light show projected onto the side of the Granary Square warehouse building conveying the idea of a circus.

Circus of light art installation at Lumiere London
The irony, Kings Cross, really is a circus even without this circus of light.

London has so many street fairs during the spring and the summer. There are the occasional Christmas markets in Decemberoccasional Christmas markets in December as well.  It was great to have an outdoor street festival during the dark nights of January.  I remember how much fun it was to see the temporary exhibit of public art by French sculptor Richard Orlinski on the ski slopes of Val d’Isere last year.

The only downside?  It was bitterly cold  but that didn’t seem to wane the enthusiasm of the crowds of people who were out to see the show.  I enjoyed the variety of the installations.  Some were interactive and family-friendly while others looked at global issues or paid homage to that most urban of public art, street art.  I also appreciate that some pieces will be permanent.

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23 thoughts on “The Lighter Side of Public Art with Lumiere London”

  1. I heard about this and would have loved to visit but for once I had a full social calendar each night! Your photos look great though so I’m hopng it does happen again next year. #Mondayescapes

  2. I’ve been to the last 3 shows in Durham and they just get better and better! London mixed some of this years light installations with ones from previous years. I’d love to have been there. 🙂

  3. This looks like it was such a cool event to take part in! Europe seems to love casting light shows on monuments and such, which I enjoy watching – but London seemed to have taken it a step further with interactive exhibits. I would have loved to participate – thanks for sharing!

  4. I love your photos – somehow I missed hearing about Lumiere London until a bit too late and our plans kept clashing so I’ve only seen a few friends’ snaps on Facebook. Hopefully it was enough of a success that they’ll bring it back next year, I particularly loved the sound of the recycled bottle bulbs. Thanks for linking up with #citytripping

  5. Oh! We got to go on the giant birdcage swing when we were passing through Kings Cross around Christmastime. Didn’t know it lights up at night – how cool. Love the idea of those other interactive displays too. I do like a bit of art you can have a go on. Great event. They should definitely repeat it.

    1. I was really surprised more people weren’t swinging in the birdcage. Our kids had no line to get on it. And they thought it was a lot of fun.

  6. Gutted to have missed Lumiere London (we were overseas) – fab pictures and write up (very interesting about the plastic bottles. It is such a good idea to have something like this take place in January when everyone is feeling a bit down in the dumps and looking for something inexpensive & which doesn’t involve boozing after the festive season!! Fingers crossed it will be back next year! Thanks for linking to #citytripping

    1. I think so too. Lots of people out with their kids probably because 6:30 is dark and a reasonable time for school age kids to be out.

  7. This looks like wonderful event. Loved all of it, but I really thought the dresses look real awesome.

    Thanks for sharing them with Saturday Art!

    p.s. I think I have corrected now the blog button code – sorry ’bout that.

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