Reflecting on Lumiere London 2018 | The epitomy of organised chaos

With a suggested duration time of “More than 3 hours,” it is unsurprising that it’s also advised to tackles this year’s Lumiere London Light Festival over two days. I myself, with a willing friend, managed to make it to almost all the installations in the Mayfair area, around half of the installations in the West End area, and spotted a few of the Westminster & Victoria ones too. And all in under 5 hours – it’s safe to say our feet were aching the next day! Whether you went to the Festival this year, went last year, or plan to visit next year (or simply just fancy looking at the pictures), you can watch my video above and read my thoughts on the event below.

What is Lumiere London?
Lumiere London is an art festival taking place over four evenings at the start of the year that showcases the architecture of London city through light installations designed by artists from around the globe. This year is the second time Lumiere was brought to London after a successful run last year, and its growing popularity over the UK.

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What’s the judgement?
Pushing through the gathering crowd around  Child Hood (an installation by Collectif Coin, France, taking up the entirety of Trafalgar Square), the sheer amount of organisation gone into this event is as clear as the anticipation for it. Guides and attendants in high-vis jackets are scattered around, something which was apparently lacking from the Festival during its first year. All the helpers seemed passionate about the festival and happy to be there, even in the rain. In fact, a very kind attendant led us from the Supercube (Stéphane Masson) to the Flamingo Flyaway (by the Lantern Company with Jo Pocock) later on our exploration, joking that he was getting bored of the shining mason jars. However, there was a noticeable lack of signage; a feature that would have been greatly appreciated, even if it only meant placing signposts near each installation, or each set of installations.  This lack resulted in visitors either having to guess directions and estimate distances using the free app or the £5 map sold at sporadically placed stations across London, or having to follow the mass of the bodies that hinted at the presence of a work.

The installations themselves,  although all being wonderfully bright and successful in showcasing the architecture on which they are placed, are not consistent in their effect.  Nightlife (by the Lantern Company with Jo Pocock)  set up in Leicester Square was spectacular to look at, the enlarged shapes of the wildlife loomed over you, putting you in the position of the bug, yet the size of the crowd and the sight of their slow procession through the middle of the square was more daunting to the visitors and was as discouraging as the prospect of a boot to an ant.

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In contrast, Chris Plant’s new work Harmonic Portal by St James’ Church was a  strange and surprisingly beautiful piece; the rings of light smoothly changed as the meditative and eerie notes played out around you, coming from where? You couldn’t say. The notes played were actually taken from the frequencies of the colours red, blue, and green, making this sensory experience a circular thing. (You can see and hear Harmonic Portal at 02:51 in the video above!)

In conclusion, despite the works of the Festival being inconsistent in their spectacles, I would recommend it. If you are an art or architecture lover looking to track down every installation from Mayfair to Waterloo over the four evenings, or if you’re looking for an interesting way to spend an evening with a friend, either way, there will be something that will fascinate or astound you.

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