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Artists Bring Light To A Long Winter In The U.K.

In the midst of a most difficult, dark year, light artists have come into their own. Timed to coincide with Diwali, in place until January 31, Tate Britain’s Winter Installation remembering a brave new world from Chila Kumari Singh Berman has been a poignant hit for art-lovers who can’t visit galleries at the moment.

The imposing facade of the gallery is a luminous depiction of both the artist’s punjabi heritage and her Liverpool upbringing; with depiction of deities and the family ice cream van. Artists, says Kumari Singh Berman, ‘create order out of chaos’ which seems particularly apt in the long winter of 2020. The installation will be in place until January 31. 

Also in London, artists are playing productively with light in Canary Wharf until February 27; Murmuration by Squidsoup in Montgomery Square has hundreds of orbs containing lights and speakers and The Stories Under Our Feet in Jubilee Park with projections of poetry into the ground and Neon Tree by Hawthorn at West Ferry Circus. Best of all, they’re free to experience (maps can be downloaded so people can create their own trail). 


Now in its eighth year, the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in South West London balances innovation with tradition and is in place until January 17. The entrance is always a glittering archway but after that, each year sees new additions around its 300 acres; tunnels with lanterns, glowing pink cherry trees hint at spring while the rose garden springs into voice. The finale is at the Palm House with laser beams and jets of light 

In Wembley, Winterfest, which opened in November, incorporates both Christmas and Diwali. It has London’s tallest LED tree and plenty of other interactive, thoroughly immersive light shows including tunnels, is free and open until January 17.

 In Buckinghamshire, the extravagant gardens of Waddesdon Manor, home of the Rothschild family, bring the 18th century notion of pleasure gardens to the 21st century, with giant fairy light baubles in the stables and lawns of gently glowing tiny orbs while the Parallels installation is in the stables, blending tubes of light with sound.  

Meanwhile, Luminate is in the grounds of the Royal Family’s home at Sandringham until January 17; a mile-long journey that focuses on colour and sensation. It then moves to Coombe Abbey in Warwickshire from 20 January to 21. 

Longleat in Wiltshire brings an especially whimsical touch to the posh house illumination experience. It’s certainly one of the most ambitious, where lasers blend with Longleat’s venerable fountains, along with motion-detected lights and labyrinths. The trail is wheelchair accessible. 

A direct response to COVID-19, Bradford LIT will see communities and artists collaborate in a series of light shows across Bradford, from the rooftop of the city’s historic mills to people’s front gardens. Highlights include UK Poet Laureate Simon Armitage working with Double Take, a projection mapping specialist and Alison Smith’s macrame-inspired Lightweave.  

 It runs until March, when it can be hoped that the lengthening days and a vaccination programme taking effect, another sense of light will emerge. 


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