For the second year in a row, I headed to the Winter Lights at Canary Wharf exhibition. It’s completely free and runs from 16th – 27th January, 5 – 10pm. So if you’re reading this post on the Friday night, you’ve got time to get down there on the eve of the 27th!
We had a great time last year, although feeling like we should have won a Duke of Edinburgh award for our orienteering in finding each light installation across the vast area of Canary Wharf. It was refreshing to see further signage this year, however, we still got a lil lost, so they haven’t quite mastered getting the signage quite right.
TIP: A lot of the installations in the Mall, or in a cube, are not worth the wait, spend more time walking to the others! Loads of the restaurants and bars in the area give discounts to those attending the light festival and there’s up to 3 hours free parking!
If you arrive by Tube, Canary Wharf station is of course the closest station. In the Mall next door I grabbed a map and then headed out the Bank Street exit, where the 1st installation, conveniently numbered 1!
The 1st installation was a Sonic Light Bubble, by Eness, Australia at Jubilee plaza. “An amazing six metre wide livingg, breathing installation pulsates with light and sound when you approach or touch it, emitting a warm glow through 236 programmed LEDs as it constantly generates new visual patterns to a unique soundtrack. “
We headed down Mackenzie Walk down to Installation Number Two, Bit.Fall By Julius Popp, Germany at Chancellor Passage. This was stunning to watch, because you just couldn’t work out how it was possible. “It’s an ever changing cascade of words drawn from a live newsfeed on The Times website falls down in a wall of water. Using sophisticated technology, a series of valves opens at exactly the right moment to let droplets of water fall to form letters. The words appear in mid-air illuminated as they fall into the water below, only perceptible for a brief moment before dissolving forever.’
From here we headed to Installation Five along the water to , The Cube by Ottotto, Portugal which is on the bridge at the bottom of the Cubitt Steps. “ This exploded cube of light symbiotically bonds with the pedestrian bridge at the bottom of Cubitt Steps. During the day it is an intriguing black and white abstract skeleton, but from sunset the faces of this 3sqm cube reflect and frame the adjacent scenery – the water underneath, the city around, and the sky above.” – I personally found when i stood on the steps, half way up, is where i really saw the beauty of this, as opposed to standing underneath it on the bridge!
We then walked up the Cubitt Steps, crossed over the road into Cabot Square, it felt quite calm and serene. Here lied Installation Four, Halo by Venividimultiplex and Fosfor Design, Netherlands. “See cabot square in a new light as a giant halo seems to levitate above the fountain creating a powerful light experience. Halos are an optical phenomenon produced by light interacting with crystals in the atmosphere recreated here to delight and uplight.”
From here we crossed over the road to Cabot Place mall, this was an internal cube which you had to queue to get into, you can spend as little time in there as you wanted. We settled for less than a minute. Installation Number Three, Polaris by Laurent Font, France at Cabot Place. “ Step inside this cube and experience the mesmerising installation inspired by the Polar Aurora Borealis. The fluctuating blue and green energy perfectly illustrates the breathtaking visual impact of this natural phenomena. It expresses a new concept that moves light into a sensory experience. Connecting art and the natural world.”
We came back out, walked back through Cabot Square, down West India Ave which sort of still looks a lil christmassy with the lights in the trees lining the avenue. At the bottom in Westferry Circus was Installation Six, Reminded me of a spiders web or an incredibly intricate laser security system! Apparatus Florius by Tom Dekyvere, Belgium. “Apparatus Florius will illuminate the trees of Westferry Circus with a multicoloured light installation featuring giant geometric patterns that grow and intersect as you watch. The structure symbolises the instinctive flow of a plant, taking over the city in search of light to be able to expand and create natural space.”
We headed back down back down West India Ave, on the left was Columbus Courtyard, home to two of my favourites, Installations 7 and 8, Urban Patterns by Kasjo Studio, Poland and Light benches, by LBO Lichtbank, Germany. ” A vibrant installation which seeks to explore the surrounding city landscape. Weaved amongst the trees out of hundreds of colourful lines, the installation comes alive when darkness falls using UV light to transform and animate the area.” and ” 10 illuminated colour changing benches”
Great place to take some pictures – as you can see!
We then headed to Wren landing for Installation Nine, Dazzling Dodecahedron by Amberlights, UK, which was gorgeous and you can step into it, but there is a queue! “Step inside this beautiful, jewel – like structure and bathe in the flow of amazing purples, golds, pinks, blues, green and bronze from the 12 pentagon panels made of iridescent acrylic. During the day the installation twinkles with a kaleidoscope of colour created by natural sunlight. At night, the lights go on and the dazzling Dodecahedron comes to life as a giant disco ball.”
We kept walking along North Colonnade along to Adams Plaza Bridge to Installation 10, Pixels by Jonas Vorwerk, Netherlands. This was a playful display of cubes, but as we got there, a bit more like a kids creche as the kids were having wayyy too much fun, but when we came back past it later on in the night, it was back to an adults playground! ” …creates dynamic environments controlled by the public rather than the artist. The installation is composed out of multiple LED-lit cubes, which can change the colour and intensity by rotation. Pixels provides an open playground where everyone can create their own space, colour and atmosphere by using the blocks to build sculptures, images or animations. They are a tool that triggers both individual expression and collective exploration.”
We headed along Crossrail place which is where some of the restaurants are…
The first was a “permanent installation of more than 500 illuminated acrylic rods installed in a water challenge,commissioned by Canary Wharf Group in 2015. Viewed from above, the programmed illumination regularly changes colour and frequency throughout the day and evening.” and ” A beautiful interactive installation, abstract lines create complex and delicate shapes which resemble the natural beauty of plants. You can interactively control the animation with a touch pad…. it generates creativity, a visual instrument that mirrors the personality of the player.”
Once you’ve finished here, enter into the building behind you, and go to -3 downstairs where you’ll find Installations 13 – 22 – The best ones here are 13 and 20 by far!
Stunning to watch as you can see from the photos below, so i’ll just give you info on those!
13 was On your wavelength, by Marcus Lyall, UK. “This is interactive light sculpture and music composition is controlled by your mind, via an EEG Headset. As your thought patterns change, the electrical data from your brain is used to control the music and create intricate light patterns. These illuminate a large – scale light installation fitted with over 30,000 LEDs.”
20 was Reflective Holons, by Michael Martens & Jetske Visser, Netherlands, I could possibly sit and watch this all day, if there was relaxing music playing! Lol. ” Experimenting with ephemeral magic of light and movement….mesmerising objects they stumbled upon by experimenting with reflecting material HOLONS. Long strips of oil like transparent foil combine with simple spinning motors become a visual entity reflecting the lights around them as if they were water drops.”
Then get in the lift or escalators and head up to the roof! 23 is Helios by DPA Lighting consultants, from Greece, Germany and UK but the real winner up here is Luma paint Light Graffitt by Lichtfaktor, Germany. “ The fusion of light grafting and object mapping transforms almost any object into a living paint canvas. It could be a car, a building, a wall or piece of furniture. With special light sources creating stunning light grafitti in rapid speed, come and make your own art.” The guy snaps a pic of 4 different sets of people, their image instantly appeared on the wall, they are then given these objects to sort of decorate their areas, and it’s just simply amazing to watch! If the queue wasn’t so long I’d have been in there!
Head back downstairs and out, across the road into One Canada Square, 25 is an Estuary Poem in the lobby. Then downstairs in the Canada place mall is a cube that holds installation 26. Where you can make playful shadows, we didn’t find this one particularly interesting, that was until we went searching for 27 and 28, which took ages to find, we then realised it was just a window display! Complete anti – climax! Signage not great either.
We then headed past Waitrose and into Churchill Place and you’ll see the yellow light that’s always there, but inside you’ll see the new additions of permanent pieces for Coup de foudre II, by Bill Culbert, New Zealand.
I’d have probably skipped 23 -30 personally! We then headed to Installation 30! Abstract, by Collective Coin, France at Montgomery Square. Absolutely loved this one! “Collective Coin’s new installation is inspired by the concept of time and relativity. Abstract is a pixel matrix in which every pixel can move over its vertical axis between the ground and a height of five metres. Movement, sound and light all interweave to create a stunning performance piece repeating on a loop.Time can be perceived as a vertical dimension in which the pixels travel. This movement represents the freezing of time while the audience keep their feet firmly on the ground.”
31 was Intrude by Amanda Parer, Australia which are the giant inflatable white rabbits – which you’ll find just across the way on Jubilee Park. Once you’ve done this, go into the Jubilee place mall and take the escalators down and there you’ll find installation 32, which is a cube inside the mall, be prepared for a pretty long wait, as it takes 5 minutes per person, duo or group! It’s Sunlight Gravity, by Little Sun, Germany. ” It invites you to create your own, unique sunlight graffiti. Dance, jump, flip, write, draw with a Little Sun solar lamp and we’ll capture it using long exposure photography.”
You then pop down the escalators to find the final Installation 33, Colour Me Beautiful by Tine Bech, Denmark. “This fun artwork transforms public spaces into an interactive digital art playground. Five colourful runways lead to a vivid portrait landscape. It captures images of audience members; live posting them onto a large screen – colouring you beautiful! The work invites people of all ages to ‘walk the colour runway’, strike a pose and be captured in a bright maze of colour.”
And there we we right back at the entrance to the tube, I’d like to say I did 15,000 steps! So it’s a vast coverage of spots, but as you can see, some were truly worth it! It’s on until January 27th, so if you don’t catch it this time, here’s a video of my experience….
and put it in the diary for next January! Remember to wrap up warm and charge your phones, because you’ll definitely want to capture some of it, if you aren’t too busy experiencing it.
More info can be found here: www.canarywharf.com