Returning back to work in darkness, light relief arrived this week in the
form of Lumiere London – the capital’s first free light festival spanning 30 locations. Juggling terriers, shimmering dresses and neon birdcages were just a
few of the magical sites emblazoned across the city. Intrigued, I nipped out on
Friday night to find out what King’s Cross had on offer.
My first port of call was to the German Gymnasium – my favourite spot for
kaffee und kuchen. Craning my neck to the lofty top floor, I was transfixed by Gunnar Johnsson’s video installation – joining the dots. Here, bodily motion is recreated in thirteen moving points as discs of light zig-zag in circles. The effect is both hypnotic but slightly maddening like watching a game of ping pong played on top of a skyscraper.
Just opposite the German Gymnasium is the famous IFO (identified flying object). Now a well-established landmark, IFO’s inclusion in Lumiere London highlights just
how cool King’s Cross has become. A gilded swing during daylight hours, the “birdcage” transforms into a luminous spectrum at night – cleverly re-admitting the energy it accumulates during the day.
Next on my list were the eerie, shimmering dresses created by Tae Gon Kim and crafted from fibre-optic Led lights. Reminiscent of the illuminated, tattered wedding dresses at Dublin’s Bram Stoker Festival, the installation takes on a life of its own as it morphs across the colour spectrum.
The undoubted highlight of Lumiere London for me was the Circus of Light. A fabulously kitsch, circus cavalcade emblazoned across the entire Granary building facade. The show starts with dramatic red curtains swinging open to reveal a carnival menagerie of juggling dogs, trapeze-swinging monkeys and strutting ringmaster crows.
The drama is heightened by the camp compere and the gasps of wonder emitted by the “crowd” – all cleverly played out on the building. London tube stations and landmarks are superimposed – merging the everyday with the magical cavorting performers. An eye-popping visual romp made all the more special by the input of local residents.
Making my way back through the throng of people, there’s an excited buzz in the air as office workers abandon the cosy confines of bars, restaurants and home to revel in the darkness for one night. Let’s hope Lumiere London continues to light up London for many more dark Januarys to come.
Lumiere London runs from the 14th- 17th January in King’s Cross and the West End