Leake Street Arches helps welcome over 1.5 million visitors to London
Updated: Feb 5, 2020
The second edition of Lumiere London drew to a close on Sunday 21st January 2018, with organisers and critics declaring the festival an emphatic success. London’s cityscape was transformed over four nights, as its streets, buildings and public spaces were illuminated by more than 50 artworks by UK and international artists from 14 different countries.
First estimates indicate that there were more than 1.5 million visits to the festival over four nights, with visitors traversing the pedestrianised city centre and taking in sites across six city destinations: London’s West End, King’s Cross, Mayfair, Fitzrovia, Westminster & Victoria, and South Bank & Waterloo. Produced by arts charity Artichoke, the UK’s largest producer of art in the public realm and commissioned by the Mayor of London, the festival was completely free to attend and is the capital’s largest art event.
As part of the South Bank & Waterloo footprint, Leake Street Arches hosted a triptych of work by multidisciplinary artist, Emma Allen, on Leake Street.
Celebrations on Leake Street began on Wednesday 17th January, with an exclusive preview event for some of London’s most influential instagrammers. Run in partnership with Lumiere, Visit London, We Are Waterloo and South Bank BID, the event started in Sensorium.
Set to become the world’s first fully 5 sensory immersive venue for the arts and events when it opens in full later this year, Sensorium currently provides a unique blank canvas event space within a seven-metre high exposed brick arch and over 2,000 square feet of floor space.
Influencers including @Londonist, @JustEfe, @Levanterman and @Meletispix gathered amongst upcycled furniture and graffiti inspired artwork for drinks and a presentation from Lumiere. The group were then led into Leake Street tunnel for an exclusive view of Emma Allen’s work.
Based between Sri Lanka and London, Emma uses faces as living canvases to explore ideas of rebirth and renewal. Through 750 photographs ‘Ruby’ saw her painted face transform from a skull into a sky full of shooting stars, while ‘Santiago’ traced the history of humankind mapped out from the single cell origin of life to a digitally enhanced and technologically defined future. ‘Adam: Grey Matters’ was a new work that sought to remove the social stigma accompanying mental health issues by creating artistic impressions of the underlying biological processes of depression.
Having spent some time shooting both Emma’s work and the graffiti, the group were then led towards the Thames, past an appropriately illuminated London Eye and on to the South Bank to see a preview of other installations.
The tour incorporated ‘Raspberry Ripple’ (a neon pink projection by Tony Heaton on the Southbank Centre), ‘Sixty Minute Spectrum’ (a unique pyramid of rooflights by David Batchelor on the Hayward Gallery), ‘Light on their Feet’ (photographs of dancers feet by David Ward projected onto the Rambert Dance School), ‘OSC-L’ (a digital transformation of the National Theatre’s flytower by Ulf Langheinrich) ‘Vertigo: The Wave’ (an interactive installation creating constantly changing patterns of sound and light) and Bough 1 (vivid tubes of fluorescent light that grow up the facade of Bargehouse, Oxo Tower Wharf by Simon Calder).
Lumiere officially opened to the public the next day. Despite taking place over some of the coldest nights of the year, enthusiastic festival-goers were undeterred by the wintry weather and Leake Street welcomed a constant stream of visitors throughout the four day event.
Visitors were given a small insight into what the Leake Street Arches project will bring to the area. The usually locked Link Tunnel doors (leading to a new pedestrian pathway) were opened up during the festival revealing the previously unseen façade entrance on Addington Street and Westminster Bridge Road. Walking through this new space, visitors were able to enjoy Nulty’s rainbow lighting installation (many of whom thought was part of Lumiere programme!) and also the artwork created by four local artists for the façade hoardings.
With an expanded festival footprint, which for the first time took in sites on both the North and South side of the River Thames and a host of community outreach initiatives, the 2018 festival truly did transform the whole city, making this extraordinary cultural event one that benefited all Londoners.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Lumiere London has been one of the brightest and most exciting festivals ever to hit the streets of the capital. With more than 50 artworks across the city, this was an incredible opportunity to see our city’s iconic architecture and streets in a completely new way – and best of all, it was free for everyone to get involved. Lumiere London has shown that London is open to Londoners and visitors from across the world, open to creativity and ideas, and open for business.”
Helen Marriage, Artichoke CEO and Lumiere London Artistic Director, said: “It has been an extraordinary four days, achieved through an amazing team effort. Delivering an event on this scale in a complex world city, is only possible through the combined work of artists, technical crew, volunteers, stewards, partners and sponsors, and all the people involved in the intricate planning process that has taken place in the 18 months leading up to Lumiere London 2018. Our aim at Artichoke is to create extraordinary moments that disrupt the everyday and reach the widest possible audience. We’re very proud to have done exactly this through Lumiere London 2018 and I’m enormously grateful to everyone who has played a part in enabling this festival to take place”.