Wednesday, 20 January 2016

French inspire Lumière London

Pic of giant plants formed out of lights in Leicester Square, London

London lit up...

... both with lights and smiling faces. 

London's first light festival fascinated both tourists and Londoners alike. The French-inspired Lumière London had everyone marvelling at light displays across the city. Even Sunday's early morning snow and a cold winter's night couldn't keep them off the streets.

I started my walk between light displays at Oxford Circus. It was great to be able to walk around Central London unimpeded by traffic. Sometimes progress was slow due to the sheer numbers out on the street - despite having all the road and pavements to walk on.

Normally if you lay down on your back in the middle of Oxford Circus, you can expect to be flattened by one or more double decker buses. Some spectators braved the cold road surface to get right underneath 1.8 London by Janet Echelman. The changing colours were glorious from any angle.

Bright pink and red light display
Light display hanging over Oxford Circus

Heading down Regent Street, I found my favourite musical light display, Keyframes. I loved the moving light figures on the front of Liberty House. This display was originally created by Groupe LAPS for the famous Fête des Lumières in Lyon, France.

Another Lyon creation appeared further down Regent Street and in Piccadilly. I found it fascinating to watch the movements of  Les Luminéoles. The fish floated and swooped above our heads, gradually changing colour. It was spectacular sight against the night sky in a very familiar street.

Further on down, there was another surprise... an enormous, noisy elephant. You could even see Catherine Garret's Elephantastic from the rear in Piccadilly. Eros and the lights in Piccadilly Circus aren't used to being upstaged by an elephant.

I struggled to make out the pictures on the more usual type of son et lumière in Piccadilly. When I reached St James Square, my smartphone went on strike. It refused point blank to take any more photos in front of Chatham House. It would not be coaxed back into action.

Sea of plastic in Trafalgar Square fountain
By Trafalgar Square, I realised that I could use my iPad camera instead. There were plastic bottles floating in the fountains. I preferred my native city's illustration of the perils of plastic in our oceans. I saw the Bristol Whales lit up at night last year. By 2050, the seas will contain more plastic than fish.

Bristol Whales sculpture lit at night - made out of plastic bottle refuse
Bristol Whales at night
Highlighting plastic in our oceans


The Neon Dogs on The Strand were so popular that it took quite a while to get to the front. The brightly-lit dogs even had a few neon bones.

Pic of neon light in shape of bone to accompany Neon DogsPic of yellow, blue and red neon lights shaped as dogs

A longer walk took me to Westminster. It was amazing to see the familiar façade of Westminster Abbey displayed so differently. The lights picked out all the statues really well. 

Pic of frontage of Westminster Abbey lit up in pink and other colours
Spectacularly lit Westminster Abbey

Next stop was Leicester Square. Here I found Shakespeare surrounded by a garden of light. 2016 marks the 400th Anniversary of his death. 

Pic of Shakespeare's statue surrounded by lit-up trees and plants of light
Shakespeare's statue in the middle of Leicester Square, London

The cinemas in front and to his left displayed Star Wars and The Hateful Eight. I wondered what he would have thought of such modern entertainments.

Star Wars film in Leicester Square
Shakespeare's view of Star Wars in Leicester Square

My last stop was in front a brightly-lit ballgown. As one bystander commented, it was a bit see-through to actually be worn.

Pic of pink lit ballgown in department store window
Brightly lit ballgown with changing colours

It was well short of midnight. After such a fairytale night, this Cinderella's feet were aching. So she headed home. By tube, not pumpkin. 

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