Last Friday (7th october 2016) I went on an adventure to Leeds for Light Night Leeds.
“As darkness falls, come and see the city in a new light…..”
I’d not been to “Leeds’ biggest free annual multi-arts event”before so I’d been looking forward to going this year. Especially as this year was it’s 12th anniversary, and for the first time it took place over two nights, Thursday 6th and Friday 7th.
“Exploring the elements earth, wind, water and fire the city came alive with over 50 artworks including spectacular light projections, as well as film, dance, music, theatre, exhibitions and street performances.”
As it was still light when I got there at 6pm I started by walking up from the train station towards the Library. As I got closer I looked up at the Town Hall to see the pink lighting showing up as it started to get dark.
Next I looked across at the Waterlight Graffiti, Antonin Fourneau, Victoria Gardens (The Headrow, LS1 3AA Thursday and Friday 6 –11pm) an interactive installation made of a wall embedded with thousands of LEDs which light up if their surface is touched by water. Anything damp becomes a tool to drive or write: a sponge, a brush, a water gun, or even a water atomizer to act as an eco-friendly graffiti artist. Developed by French artist, Antonin Fourneau, the project was research led and explores water-sensitive materials.
Then just outside the Library was The Indestructible Reef, Alison M Smith, Victoria Gardens (The Headrow, LS1 3AA Thursday and Friday 6 –11pm) a series of glowing sculptures created from recycled plastic, crafted to mimic organic forms. Alison Smith transforms waste materials into beautiful objects. She aims to illustrate the effects waste plastics have on our oceans, with plastic particles already outweighing plankton by 26:1 in some areas.
I entered Leeds Central Library, (Central Library, Calverley Street, LS1 3AB, Friday 5 –10pm) to Explore the Elements. Encountering the unexpected through art and crafts, films and displays created especially for the night. Stories of lost voyages and daring expeditions through the rare books and historic maps in the beautiful Grade II* listed building.
Also in the Library: Owl’s Shadow on the Moonlit Earth, Douglas Thompson (Central Library, Calverley Street, LS1 3AB, Friday 6 –10pm) a 3D shadow show inspired by Robert Plack’s elemental poem “The Snowy Owl”. Meet your shadow on the screen and make magical images that leap out into space as you participate in this original performance by artist Douglas Thompson with live music by Max Trewhitt.
And H2Us, Artlink West Yorkshire & Love Arts (Central Library, Calverley Street, LS1 3AB
Friday 6 –10pm) We are over 50% water. H2Us is a sculpture with droplets floating in the frame representing our connection with water. The constantly moving droplets will glimmer and glitter as they turn in the rising air currents. Participants will be invited, alongside artists Jim Bond and Rozi Fuller, to create their own lanterns inspired by the sculpture.
Next I walked to Briggate for Ethereal Freeze, Glacial Art Ice Sculptors (Briggate, LS1 6LX Friday 6 – 11pm) a transient installation, using ice and light to capture the fleeting beauty of fire, wind, earth and water.
And the Local Artisans’ Market (Briggate, LS1 6LX Friday 3pm –10.30pm) a market displaying the work of local artisans, a wide range of handmade gifts and lively atmosphere on one of Leeds’ most famous streets. A variety of art, ceramics, print and silversmithing. Where I met the lovely Perky Painter Helen Gibson.
From Briggate I walked up to St John the Evangelist Church to see Elemental, Hannah Stained Glass (St John the Evangelist Church Gardens, Mark Lane, LS2 8JA Friday 6 –11pm)
Four hand-crafted stained glass windows cast their magic and transport you on a journey through the elements. Travel from earth, through the air, out of the fire and into the cooling water created by colour and light.
And then inside the church itself for [in]visible, Si ieng Fung (St John the Evangelist Church, Mark Lane, LS2 8JA Friday 6 –11pm) Artist, Si ieng Fung, uses transparent materials to shed light upon the marvellous architectural detail of historical buildings in Leeds. [in]visible reveals all that has faded into the background of this modern metropolitan city. Visitors are invited to share which buildings have played parts in their lives.
Just round the back of the church were The Giant Dandelions, Olivia d’Aboville (Merrion Gardens, Merrion Street, LS2 8JG Thursday and Friday 6 – 11pm) The Giant Dandelions installation is a forest of 90 giant lit flowers. Through manipulating over 9,000 recycled bottles, the artist refers to our consumerist society that is polluting our environment. She creates work that is sensitive to light, fluidity and movement, allowing you to walk through the forest with a more sensitive connection to the environment.
Next I went over to Millennium Square to see The Phoenix in the Stone, Illuminos (Civic Hall, Millennium Square, LS1 1UR Thursday and Friday 7.30pm –11pm) Returning after the epic Momentous (2013), Illuminos present The Phoenix in the Stone, a beautiful fable for the four quarters of Yorkshire, weaved from shadow and light. Watch the metamorphosis as the firebird soars, projected onto the Civic Hall.
Then inside The Carriageworks for Afterglow, Atipyka-Visualab (Auditorium, The Carriageworks, Millennium Square, LS2 3AD Friday 6 –11pm) a cubic frame audio-visual installation. A series of geometric animations are projected through six semi-transparent screens. With an unusual usage of light, the audience are surrounded by an audio-visual journey where time and space is bent upon itself, creating a new dimension inside the structure and guiding the viewers through the four basic natural elements.
And over to Leeds City College, Technology Campus (Cookridge Street, LS2 8BL Friday 7.30 –11pm) to see the work projected on a billboard showcasing an eclectic assortment of student work, encapsulating the symbiotic spirit of the elements. Through projections of creative arts, games, animation and videos, spectators can revel in the delights of the achievements of college students and enjoy the diversity of talent and creativity.
Before walking up to Queen Square to see the Fire Balls, Aragorn Dick-Read (Queen Square, LS2 8AJ, Friday 6 – 11pm) Large cut out steel shapes by Caribbean artist, Aragorn Dick-Read, set alight as night sets in. These provocative sculptures evoke primal energy and use the vitality of fire to bring life to his intricately cut designs. Dancing figures embracing nature, or profound symbolic patterns that embody the oppositions faced by culture and the elements.
Past the Light Show on the outside of First Direct Arena (Clay Pit Lane, LS2 8BY, Friday 7 –11pm) Leeds’ flagship event space, First Direct Arena, hosts exciting live music, comedy, spectacular entertainment and sporting events. For Light Night, they are putting on an extra special light display.
Down to the Love Arts Festival at Leeds Corn Exchange (Call Lane, LS1 7BR Friday 6 –11pm)
Pop up exhibitions, performances, DJs, live music and workshops that promote the idea that being creative is good for your mental health. Events will take place underground on the Piazza level of Leeds Corn Exchange. Join in the arts party under the Earth! Presented by Love Arts Festival and the Art of Recovery.
Across to We are Universe, Leeds College of Music, Northern School of Contemporary Dance, Leeds College of Art, Oscar Barany, Nicolas Dixon, Motiv Productions. Supported by Leeds BID (Kirkgate Market Event Space, 28-34 George St, LS2 7HY Friday 6.30 –11pm)
This collaborative installation of improvised music, dance, digital visual art and animation, explores the relationship between the elements in the universe and the human interactions which make up our communities. Internationally renowned artist Nicolas Dixon has been commissioned to paint the 100ft wall inside the iconic Kirkgate Market. To mark the unveiling of this stunning new work on Light Night, award winning Leeds based video production company Motiv Productions will be augmenting the piece with brand new animations.
Then sadly it was time to make my way back to the train station to catch the last train home so I finished with The Falls, Dave Lynch (Queens Hotel, City Square, LS1 1PJ Thursday and Friday 7.30 –11pm) a creative exploration of the flow and form of water. A 100ft digital waterfall taking us on a journey from the abstract to the hyper real, driven in perfect synchronization by a musical score inspired by the chaotic forces of nature’s white noise.
There was so much more to see that I didn’t have time to, but I had a great time seeing all the things that I did get to and even though there was a bit of drizzle here and there it was nice to see that so many other people were enjoing it all too.
Information taken from the Light Night Leeds 2016 Guide find out more at
Till next time,
Purple Faye x