James Cottrill

Some thoughts from the mind of James

London by Light

It’s very easy, living in London, to not take advantage of everything that’s happening in the city. “It will still be here tomorrow/next weekend/next month,” we tell ourselves, “I can go then instead.”That was the position I found myself in late Sunday night. The London Lumière (Light Show) had been on for the last four days, yet despite having nothing planned, if somehow been too busy to go. Funny how that happens, isn’t it? I’d seen the lights on my friends Snapchat and Instagram stories, and they were definitely impressive, but I felt no urgency to go. I realised that I had already fallen into the aforementioned trap and was instead planning to go next year. Realising this, at 9PM on the last night, I went out to see the lights.

The downside of going out with no plan to see lights scattered all across London is that I had no idea where to go! Fortunately the ‘Visit London’ app had all the locations on an offline map, so I could decide where to go whilst I was on the tube. I’d seen many pictures of the different illuminations on Social Media and decided to start with what I thought was Westminster Cathedral, which being just next to Victoria was easy for me to get to.

As you probably guessed, the installation at Westminster Cathedral wasn’t the one I was expecting to be there! It turned out to be a much smaller illumination powered by people on bicycles. I’m not sure that I truly ‘got’  what these lights were about but it was a very pretty display all the same.

The next installation I saw was Asalto London. Produced by the Spanish artist Daniel Canogar, it was a projection onto Westminster City Hall. The premise of the projection was people climbing to the top of the building. Supposedly they had taken local residents as the likeness for the people. The longer I watched this, the more it reminded me of rush hour on the Northern Line, with people climbing over each other to get to the top/tube!

The lights on the East Face of Westminster Abbey

The lights on the South Side door of Westminster Abbey

The lights that I’d seen on social media turned out to be on Westminster Abbey, not Westminster Cathedral! To be honest, it would have been hard to miss them! The lights effectively coloured in the entire facade of the church, giving life to the normally plain figures and icons that decorate the exterior of the church. It was an incredibly bright and beautiful design. It was defintitely more spectacular up close than the pictures I’d already seen and on its own was worth going to see.

The Eye in lights

Having come this far, I decided to see as many installations as possible whilst I was out. I could have got on the tube back from Westminster, but I was in for a penny, as they say. I headed over westmister bridge to see the “Raspberry Ripple” lights. I’d read the artist’s description of this installation on the walk over the bridge, and it was definitely a modern art piece!

Raspberry Ripple in lights

In hindsight, I wish I’d got out earlier and had the chance to see a few more of the lights, they were truly stunning and it was great to see London from a different perspective. With any luck I’ll still be here next year and have the chance to see them again.

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