At the London Art Fair I heard that Europeans (especially the French) consider that the British art scene is somewhat conservative. On Sunday night I went to see the Winter Lights Festival in London's Canary Wharf. I was amazed at this very modern and innovative show. Armed with the downloaded map on my iPad, I toured around the various light artworks.
The first artwork that I saw was Bit.Fall. Words cascade down one by one from a Times Newspaper feed. I saw 'France' fall in watery light and captured it on my Vimeo video below.
Angels of Freedom by Israel's Ove Collective was among the most popular sections of the walk. People queued enthusiastically to have their pictures taken with angel wings and a halo over their heads. I kept expecting to see Nicholas Cage sitting on top of one of the Canary Wharf Towers as in the film City of Angels.
There was also a long queue to go inside the huge, egg-shaped light installation. Ovo came from Belgium. (Again you can see it in action on my video below).
Some of the best light installation were in and around the Crossrail building. The American Water Wall and Danish Cathedral of Mirrors were highly innovative with unusual light displays and 'music'. Both are best enjoyed on the video.
The Crossrail Roof Gardens revealed yet more innovative works. There was even one made from recycled plastic bottles by schoolchildren with a British light artist.
|Liter of Light by Mick Stephenson and schoolchildren|
The most innovative works were inside the Crossrail Place building down on floor -3. I nearly missed them all as I couldn't initially work out where the entrance was. I'm glad that I persevered. These works are really best viewed on the video. A number of them were interactive, changing according to the actions of the people in the room.
Canary Wharf's Winter Lights Festival, London - January 2017 from Karen Andrews on Vimeo.
By far the most interesting, involved waiting in a long queue. It was a British/Australian interactive light sculpture. One man was asked to wear an EEG headset. The lights and music changed according to his brain waves and levels of concentration. I have put that section into its own separate video so that you can enjoy it in full, even if you don't get a chance to head to Crossrail Place at Canary Wharf in person. You can find further details on each light installation on the Canary Wharf website.
Judging by the enthusiasm of the crowds on a bitterly cold night in Canary Wharf, the British aren't so conservative after all in their art appreciation. Nor are British artists unwilling to experiment with new techniques.