Now that we are well and truly into autumn and the daylight hours will be decreasing until the end of December that is no reason to mourn the end of summer, rather an excuse to utilise the extra hours of darkness and what better way to do this than by visiting Leeds Light Night?
For two nights at the beginning of October each year the city turns itself over to art installations which utilise the medium of light, obviously, given the name. It is incredible how the illumination of the exterior of even the most familiar landmarks makes them almost unrecognisable. The Queens Hotel in City Square gets a new paint job making it look like a Mary Berry creation and the Civic Hall is backdrop to a video sequence which as impressive as you will ever see.
As well as the outdoor events, there are several indoor exhibitions. The main event of the evening being the Light Parade through the city centre. The crowds for the parade could not have been bigger had Leeds United won the Champions League, the Rhinos the Super League and Yorkshire the County Championship and all decided to have their Civic Receptions at the same time. The Headrow, which is currently undergoing refurbishment, was rammed.
As the parade did not begin until 7.30 I decided to have a look at a couple in indoor offerings which were open from 6.00 as the outside conditions did not have a bearing on them.
My first port of call was the Carriageworks where Naseem Darbey was displaying textile based artworks in an exhibition named We Are Saved By Loss. There is an explanation displayed on boards in the room which basically relate to the artist’s experience with cancer. Not to make light – pardon the pun – of a serious subject, the exhibits, which represent cells in the body undergoing changes, struck me as being like strange deep sea creatures you see on natural history programmes. It is amazing to think that they are made from textiles.
Next stop was the magnificent Town Hall where there was an installation named Reflecting Holons by Martens and Visser from The Netherlands. This comprised a group of huge hanging structures seeming like a combination of water drops and Christmas baubles which, due to the way they were fabricated, changed shape and diffused the light. It was just as described in the programme – mesmerising.
Now that darkness had set in I took a stroll outside the Town Hall where there was ample opportunity for everyone to put the cameraphone to good use. Angels of Freedom by OGE Group from Israel provided a backdrop for a photograph by giving the impression that those who stood in front of them had wings and were full of virtue, needless to say I was barred from this activity.
Next to the Angels were the Light Benches by the German Lichtbankeobjekte where a set of benches emitting constantly changing coloured light were available for people to take a rest and chat to strangers. What really happened was that most of those who utilised them only did so for a couple of minutes whilst someone took their photos or they grabbed a selfie.
It was now time for the Parade which started fashionable late, which would have been OK had it not started raining! As I have previously said the route was packed with spectators and so my photographs were taken from a poor vantage point.
After the Parade had passed it took some time to extricate myself from the crowd and make my way to the Civic Hall for the most impressive show of the night, Telekinetic Rumours by Pani Pawlosky from Poland, but it was well worth the effort. The video projected onto the building was very inventive, superbly executed and had a great soundtrack. At one stage the columns supporting the Palladian Portico changed colour at which point two arms appeared, one either side, and grabbed the end pillars seeming to detach and discard them. The show lasted about ten minutes and is repeated five minutes after the end of the previous one so there are plenty of opportunities to witness this spectacular.
I could have spent all night at this event, which I suppose is the object, but the old knees were telling me that it was time to call it a draw and so I made my way home. One last observation though came as I was leaving Millennium Square and a holding screen was being displayed on the Civic Hall with a countdown to the next presentation. For those of you who have become cynical about politicians lately, how could you, and think that our elected representatives don’t even know what day it is, then you will have your opinions reinforced by the section of the display on the building which houses the City Council meetings, proclaiming Light Night Leeds 2018. They don’t even know what year it is!
Light Night continues in various locations throughout the city on 11th October, 2019 – honest!