Lumiere: Festival of Light 2016, London

Organised by Artichoke, the trust specialised in bringing art to the masses in the context of the city, and whose projects have included the crowd stopping  The Sultan’s Elephant and the 4th plinth, this was an enchanting festival that last January brought Londoners onto the streets despite the cold.

In a personal level, anything that connects art with architecture has my full attention. In a world driven, too often, by profit and where both have become a commodity, an investment, I have a lot of time for “porque sí” (pure enjoyment).

I am sure that there are studies that demonstrate the benefit of art in everyday life as I know that there are studies that look at the neurological effects of architecture (as it happens, a friend of mine if working on an interesting project you should look at : link ). Never the less, I know this empirically because  I feel it as I am sure you do too.

Today, all iI want is to share some pictures and videos I took during the festival for your delight. They don’t show all the installations, only my favourites . (My criteria is simple: they either moved me, changed the surroundings most dramatically or disapointed me)


Garden of light, by Tilt, a French collective specialied in using art installations to reclaim the public realm (Leicester Square) LINK


Luminéoles by Porté par le vent . The project was originally commisioned for the Lyon Festival of Lights (Regent Stree and Picadilly Street) LINK


Elephantastic, Top’la design / Catherine garret .  This piece made me laugh a lot. The elefant was seemingly trapped and you could see his back side from Picadilly Street and his front side feom Regent Street (Regent & Picadilly Street) LINK


1.8 London , Janet Echelman / Studio Echelman (LINK)

This gorgeous interactive sculpture was made out of fishing nets and it was named after the 1.8 miliseconds that the 11th of March was shortened by due to the impact of the earthquake that shook the Tohoku region.


1.8 London , Janet Echelman / Studio Echelman


Joining the Dots by Cleary Connolly (LINK)

Projected in the old German Gym in Kings Cross, this installation demonstrated how easily we can identify the human movement / presence without much information (some dots). The projected images, individuals from the local community, animated the facade and left me thinking how often we tend to join those dots in other areas too.


Light Graffiti by Floating Pictures (LINK)

As a big fan of urban/street art, this installation disappointed me.  This was neither and it felt like a selfie spot.

The concept, interactive painting through the use of technology was diluted  due to the sheer numbers attending the event, the small space that it occupied and the high density of selfie “photographers” possing tirelessly.


Now, let me share something different, interesting and charming.

Litre of Light by Mick Stephenson, Central Saint Martins, UAL, MyShelter Foundation (LINK)

The intention of this installation was to highlight how simple technology can still make a big difference to people’s lives. Brilliantly simple yet inspiring: “How do you create a sustainable light bulb? By filling a plastic bottle with water, adding a drop of bleach and pushing it through a hole in the roof, you can refract as much sunlight through it as a 55-watt bulb.” (I KNOW!!)


Circus of Light by Ocubo (LINK)

What a joy this was. I loved it so much. The projections, the graphics, the storytelling… all of those who gathered around reverted back to childhood.

The final installation I want to talk about is Spectra-3 by (LINK)

As much a geek as i am with these kind of things, I could not wait to see this sculpture when I saw it being announced. Space/ earth connections are something I have been into since I was very small. Should astronomy (NOT astrology, just to be clear) have a more immediate social benefit that required less time, I would have loved to be a spacewoman.

The idea of going up, having a look, experiencing the smallness and fragility of  human life and possibly explore opportunities in other words would have been most fun!

All and all, I liked the Festival and I am looking forward to the next one… several things i would like though are:

1. A wider spread of the sculptures to manage crowds and reach communities that need art most
2. A stronger rooting of projects in the context
3. More involvement from British artists

Art has a value that goes beyond short-term returns, its funding should therefore not be dependent on politics and politicians caught up in a 4 years cycle.

Photographs / videos by Cristina Lanz-Azcarate (with mobile, so apologies for the quality)
Text by Cristina Lanz-Azcarate

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