The 2016 Lumiere London Festival was a victim of its own success last night as some displays were shut due to overcrowding. Over a million visitors viewed London’s iconic locations as they were transformed by light installations for the free event, which is the biggest festival of its kind ever held in the capital. Thirty locations were illuminated by international artists around Piccadilly, Mayfair, King’s Cross, Trafalgar Square and Westminster. A life-size animated elephant appeared from a cloud of dust on Regent Street, bringing a cheer from the crowd.
Produced by Artichoke and supported by the Mayor of London, Lumiere London ran from 14th-17th January 2016, 6.30-10.30pm. Founding support from Atom Bank, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Heart of London Business Alliance, London & Partners and King’s Cross, plus additional support from a host of partners and sponsors, including Westminster City Council, Lumiere London will transform parts of London’s West End and King’s Cross into a glittering pedestrian playground.
Lumiere London attracted record numbers of Londoners and tourists alike into the heart of the capital during what is traditionally one of the quieter months of the year. Festival visitors are being encouraged to explore the dazzling night-time gallery on foot, discovering parts of the capital for the first time and seeing familiar sights in a new light. There were easy walking routes between many of the 30 exhibits and plenty of opportunities to stay and linger over a drink or a meal at the many venues and attractions along the way.
At Westminster Abbey, French digital artist Patrice Warrener used his chromalithe technique to “paint” the Abbey’s West Gate in an electric riot of colour. The Light of the Spirit will highlight the series of stone statues above the Great West Door including Dr Martin Luther King and El Salvadorean Bishop Oscar Romero, as well as parts of the two Western Towers built by Christopher Wren and Nicholas Hawksmoor.
In Piccadilly, the Lumineoles light sculptures danced with the elements, while on the façade of BAFTA 195 Piccadilly, leading stars and directors of British screen. TV appeared as part of 195 Piccadilly, a dynamic, technicolour artwork by Newcastle-based studio NOVAK, with a striking soundtrack by Ed Carter. Exploring the different genres of cinema and television and using images from BAFTA’s archive, including Michael Caine, Olivia Coleman, Idris Elba, Steve McQueen, and Julie Walters.
At King’s Cross, one of the most popular locations, visitors explored the area, its buildings and spaces through 11 installations and projected artworks, including Circus of Light, a magical animation across the breadth of the repurposed Granary Building especially commissioned for the festival from Portuguese studio Ocubo, and Diver by Ron Haselden, a 17-metre light sculpture at the King’s Cross Swimming Pond Club. Installations were later temporarily switched off and Kings Cross Station was evacuated because of overcrowding at the Lumiere London Festival.