Thursday, 8 February 2018

Tonight The Pavements Are Ours



One of the many justifications given by street artists for their wanton abuse of other people’s property is that it's a response, a push back against the use of the public visual space to host corporate propaganda, known in the indoctrinating the masses trade as advertising. One of Graffoto’s favourite proponents of advertising resistance is dr.d who has long chosen to turn the enemies’ tactics against themselves; his subversion, sedition and perversion of the political sphere is frequently conducted on hijacked billboards and street signage.

Dr D - HMP London
dr.d, Dalston, 2010


Now, in partnership with Chu, another English graffiti writer and artist whose work we have long admired, see the stunning rooftop anamorphic street scene below, Worship The Ground has been established to allow anyone to have a short message temporarily painted on the streets.

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Chu - Cordy House, 2010


In their own words:

A pioneering, personal street art message delivery service launches this month.

Worship The Ground (WTG) is a brand new online service, empowering members of the public to order a written phrase or slogan for any location on the ground. WTG will first launch in London and Bristol, with Brighton and Manchester soon to follow. The new company is co-founded by Chu and dr.d, two legendary wordsmiths known for their work in the public environment.

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photo courtesy Worship The Ground


WTG works for good people and good causes. Direct Messages are for personal use only, advertisers need not apply. WTG can write on the pavement whatever you can write on paper, up to 100 characters in a choice from one of ten bright colours. The new website is now available to visit at www.worshiptheground.com. Until Friday February 28th, visitors can use the discount coupon code “worshiptheground” at the checkout stage for a fifty percent off the basket total.
dr.d explains “Our Direct Message gift is useful for celebrating a birthday written on someone’s route to their workplace, or declarations of love between couples outside their front door. They could write messages of frustration with a football fans manager outside the team’s ground, and crucially our service is to get any message across by making someone’s day, or not.”

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photo courtesy Worship The Ground

WTG have already helped to champion good causes in conjunction with the Mayor of London’s anti knife crime initiative (#LondonNeedsYouAlive) and the homelessness charity Centrepoint (#BleakFriday). {end quote}

Many of you may recognise the title of this post as a paraphrasing of the Richard Hawley song “Tonight The Streets Are Ours”, used as the theme tune to Banksy’s street art mockumentory Exit Through The Gift Shop. Worship The Ground are offering exactly that, your message on the pavements, max 100 characters, with no risk of you getting caught red handed. Or green handed, or white handed or any of the ten colours the service is offered in.

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photo courtesy Worship The Ground


If you are concerned about the legality of this, let’s just say that perhaps you don’t have the right cheeky sense of humour required to appreciate the opportunities presented here and which lies at the heart of a large slew of street art. The Worship The Ground website says, and their FAQs (“this section is devoted to the word “no”) are well worth reading for a laugh, “Can I get arrested for booking a text message?
Answer: No – it is a lawful requirement for us to cleanse any markings within 48 hours of notification, unless the rain and/or traffic has worn it away already.”

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photo courtesy Worship The Ground


dr.d is not known for his expertise in advising and interpreting the law or even being aware of its existence but there is perhaps a relevant analogy in the world of flyposting. All those illegal adverts for raves, records and recreational activities feature a lot major corporates using illegal flyposting as part of their eyeball reach manoeuvres but it’s not those companies that get into trouble and it is not even the advertising companies that commission the flyposting organisations that get into trouble, if anyone gets into trouble it is the flyposting teams. Perhaps people using Worship The Ground’s service have a similar degree of separation between themselves and some kind of offense.

Dr D sees things from every angle


Graffoto is noted for its complete legal incompetence and nothing said on here should be treated as a get out of jail free card. But like we hinted at earlier, if you do intend to take legal advise first then this really isn’t going to fit your Valentine’s Day cupid strategy. In fact why are you still reading this? Be gone. Unsubscribe!

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photo courtesy Worship The Ground

links:
Worship The Ground website
dr.d website
Chu website
All photos Dave Stuart except courtesy Worship The Ground website where noted

Monday, 5 February 2018

Adrian Boswell - Broccoli Man


Do you recall broccoli panic gripping the nation in Spring 2017? Something to do with the weather led to crop failure in Spain which triggered a desperate broccoli shortage in England. It is not known if the Cobra committee met to discuss rationing.

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Waitrose steeled itself for riots and Fortnum and Masons dusted off the crowd control barriers but, amidst all this green vegetable mayhem, someone started to make light of such woes. Real broccoli started to appear in art on Shoreditch walls!

Adrian Boswell - Broccoli Man

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Each sculptural assembly had an image of a bearded gentleman with hands and feet and a broccoli body, welcome Broccoli Man!!!! Broccoli Man appeared on mirrored surfaces at regular intervals from January 2017, then in March started to become a little surreal, the natural greens of the broccoli were replaced by reds.

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Broccoli Man's placement was often witty, such as on this huge flyposter advertising a tv program about the world’s favourite recreational plant!

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Broccoli adbusting


I got to meet Broccoli Man in person in Café 1001 at the Old Truman Brewery when a very friendly chap introduced himself as Adrian Bowell, the artist behind the face in the broccoli. It transpires that in addition to being someone who regards broccoli onto walls as normal, Adrian is a quite incredible collage artist.

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Acid Rain - original collage


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Hairpin - original collage


Adrian can be found in his small gallery on Brick Lane at the Old Truman Brewery, just ask around for the Broccoli Man.

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Adrian Boswell


Adrian is a quiet spoken, industrious indeed prolific artist, he acknowledges that his bursts of activity and work ethic can see him spending 30 hour stints in his studio working continuously with sleep.

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Adrian has a number of projects in the pipeline including opening a gallery abroad, taking the broccoli street art concept to another level and, of course, producing more studio art. He is also engaged on an ambitious book project, hoping to produce a book a year for 10 years.

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This year’s must have broccoli bling is gold and recently a rainbow spectrum of broccoli appeared.

Gold Broccoli Man - Adrian Boswell

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Rainbow Broccoli Man (also feat Urbansolid and smot)


On the theme of broccoli, Graffoto does like to pride itself on digging deep, rooting out the story behind the story and we found that the whole broccoli situation has been monitored by a quite sinister sounding Office For National Statistics and they actually have a broccoli price index. Yes! An index solely and exclusively for monitoring the price of broccoli.

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Broccoli RPI, technically known as GK8E, courtesy The Government


You think I make everything up, or you can’t tell what I make up and what might be real and frankly often I can’t either and you may with justification think “if this is put together by government whizz kid economists, how come they can’t spell Broccoli?” but this index is real, check it out here.

The really bizarre sinister thing is how those secretive government economist boffins have completely erased the broccoli crisis from history. The index is more or less as flat as a pancake throughout spring 2017, like the broccoli crisis never happened. In fact they want us to believe that the broccoli price has more than halved in the past 4 years, clearly the public perception and all the newspaper drama was fake news.

In the most recent installations in Shoreditch, gold Broccoli Man has appeared imprisoned in a cage, this may be a coded message from Broccoli Man; concerns for his wellbeing are mounting.

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Gold Broccoli in a cage

More extracts from "Forgotten Dreams, Adrian Boswell Collage artist, 2018

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"Road Flooded"


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S'Fear Not


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Exhibition at Foreman's Smokehouse, Hackney Wick


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Movements In Space/The Murky Sea

PS - If by the time you read this the government is spelling broccoli correctly that will be a clear sign they have been spying on Graffoto.  Conversely, if they still are spelling it wrong they are not doing their job of spying on Graffoto properly.

Link: Adrian Boswell website
All photos: Dave Stuart except Gallery artwork photos from Adrian Boswell website
Additional sources: Websites of The Times, The Daily Telegraph, www.her.ie, www.bbc.co.uk, Office For National Statistics

Friday, 26 January 2018

Cartoonneros and Pure Evil: Wordplay

WORDPLAY

Cartoonneros and Pure Evil

Pure Evil Gallery

Thursday 25th January - one night only


In 2006, people with no discernible creative talent were invited by Banksy to Cans Festival to make some spray paint art. I don't think have picked up a spray can since. Oh, to avoid doubt, Banksy also thought to invite some pretty awesome artists and for some of them Cans Festival proved to be a career launch pad (Hello Vhils & that French guy).

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Original Cans Festival Poster, Banksy, 2008


Tonight the Pure Evil Gallery rocked to the sound of Pure Evil DJing (nothing by The Fall while I was there) and stencilled art supervised by Argentinian street artist Cartoonneros.

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image courtesy Pure Evil Gallery


Now, a few weeks ago while most of you were wondering why mince pies counted double on your waistline I came across a building site hoarding with a fresh collection of stencilled portraits and being of a man of respectable vintage with impeccable musical taste I could see that the image represented none other than the lead singer of Radiohead, Thom Yorke.

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Cartoonneros, underlying background by King Headswim


The memorable thing about this collection was that in going over existing artwork, the underlying naïve expressionist portrait with its compelling blue eyes radiated through Cartnoonneros’ work in a way not visible to the naked eye.


Around the corner were more multi coloured stencilled portraits, similarly executed over someone else’s existing artwork as opposed to a prepared background. Instantly recognisable in the middle was David Bowie, on the right Syd Barrett I had no clue about, let’s be honest Pink Floyd never sold themselves on their looks, and I am embarrassed to admit the Dalai Lama on the left turned out to be Keith Haring.

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Keith Haring, David Bowie, Syd Barrett


A day later I had the pleasure of bumping into Cartoonneros on the streets whipping up some more rapido stencils, this time the images included Vincent Van Gogh and Kate Moss.

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Cartoonneros in action


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Kate Moss by Cartoonneros


Cartoonneros explained that he usually employed three stencilled layers in his street art portraits but that he would often spray different colours in different parts of the stencil, meaning that a single layer could be used to render multiple colours. In this next photo you can actually see the three different stencil layers used for the Van Gogh portrait are in position and each card bears the spraypainted remnants of the various colours from previous uses of the stencil.

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The many faces of Vincent Van Gogh


Cartoonneros' stencils possess the absolute essence of street art functionality: speed and repeated use.

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Vincent x6


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Jimi Hendrix


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Salvador Dali


Cartoonneros is also a master sticker maker, I had found several of his quite small stickers lurking in alleyways and I was quite bowled over when I bumped into him that he kindly gave me a few.

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Kate Moss sticker

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Stickers: gift from the artist received with thanks


Cartoonneros then nipped to Amsterdam, Paris and Berlin to spread his magic but the lure of Shoreditch was too great and he returned tonight to co-host "Wordplay" with Pure Evil, an evening of art and music. The simple idea was all were welcome to spray stencilled words over a background pre- sprayed by Cartoonneros with a collection of multicoloured stencilled turtle and Keith Haring images.


The stencilled words were machine cut into plastic sheets making them pretty durable and you could spray any colour you liked so long as it was close to the ultraviolet end of the visible spectrum.


The words were robust and expressive: vagina, penis, man, woman, love, fuck, addict; words that some who fail to see the context might even regard as naughty.  I had a few goes. Man Dignity? Utterly meaningless. Perhaps something that Trump might splutter. That one attempt though was all it took to convince me I owned the multi coloured blended spraypaint stencil thing.

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Who doesn't love Keith Haring? Another red/blue blend, on a roll here.

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Graffoto/Cartoonneros collaboration ;-)



Here is a little clip of the master Pure Evil, I shouldn’t really comment on this but notice his failure to overspray onto the huge expanses of negative space around the stencil ;-) [insert shrug emoji when Blogger gets hip with that kind of thing in a few years]



This is a step by step guide to the transition of a complete newbie to a master under the watchful gaze of Cartoonneros:

Step 1: pick stencils, happily a proper artist has already done the hard bit, cutting the stencil.

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Step 2: Spray a bit of pink down one side

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Step 3: a bit of red down the other

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Step 4: a bit of blue up the middles, some red lines through the centre and hey presto, a masterpiece!

One of the charms of the stencil is the manner in which chance comes into play with rendition of the stencil subtly different to the last with variations of speed and density of spray. Or perhaps it is just schoolboy errors like spraying your stencilled piled one on top of the other.

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Combine naughty minds and naughty words, add in some free French beer and soon the art becomes a little less philosophical and a bit more terrace based.

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Many years ago, alcohol steeped reviews of opening nights at the Pure Evil gallery were staple of Graffoto’s musings. Tonight's “happening” was quintessential old school Pure Evil in that it involved an overseas artist with a street art pedigree previously virtually unknown on these shores who pops out of Pure Evil’s little black book of contacts to exhibit in the gallery whilst also creating a bit of beautiful mayhem on the streets. Like it’s still 2007!

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Everyone and everything at Pure Evil's Gallery is cool

Links:

Cartoonneros Instagram
Pure Evil Gallery website
King Headswim Instagram
All photos Dave Stuart except gallery flyer courtesy Pure Evil Gallery


Friday, 19 January 2018

Lumiere London 2018


All photos: Dave Stuart except Lumiere London where noted

Sat 20th Jan update: A wander around different locations, more Light Art photos added at the bottom

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Michael Davis – Ilumaphonium


Millions of magical ingredients make up a great London night but its not often a cloudless sky is one of them. Lumiere London is back for 4 nights and the opening night in Thursday was blessed with a crisp clear sky. If your wondering what that has to offer a lumination based festival the answer is far, far less of that pesky orange metropolitan glow bouncing back off the clouds and down onto the streets making for nicer long exposure photos. “ahhhhhhhhh” you all cry, “now we get it. Ban the clouds”.

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Lumiere London - courtesy Lumiere London website


54 illuminated installations split into 6 kind of distinct areas are visible from 5.30pm until 10.30pm, you’ll never do it in one night. I certainly didn’t, so here is a snapshot, literally of the stuff around Mayfair and the West End that blew my photo neurons this evening.

Lumiere London Map
Map - courtesy Lumiere London website


The established tradition now is that Grosvenor Square is a great Lumiere spot and the Northern Lights by Alexsandra Stratimirovic was stunning, though I must have missed the “interact with” element promised in the VisitLondon guide.

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Alexsandra Stratimirovic - Northern Lights


Building fun into art is a now well established way of making a piece of art popular so South Molton Street was our first stop, childhood regression is the name of the game as a series of seesaws invite you to create an illuminated butterfly motion effect. Read the seesaw instructions carefully and beware all the hazards, though there is one hazard so fearsome they have to hide it from us.

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“Impulse by Lateral Office and CS Design” feat grown up child

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“Impulse by Lateral Office and CS Design” feat lots of grown up children


Static neon bicycles proved to be as popular as they are non functioning, I’d be way more impressed if you could ride one but photos of intensely illuminated groins seemed to be the main takeaway from Robyn Wright’s Neon Bikes in Brown Hart Gardens. Bottle Festoon is a collection of hanging lanterns made from used plastic bottles collected across several London boroughs and featuring in several Lumiere London locations. Sadly not as visually impressive as the plastic islands in the Trafalgar Square fountains last year.

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Robyn Wright - Neon Bikes; also feat “Bottle Festoon”


Not truly a portal but Chris Plant’s Harmonic Portal was mesmerising, it drew you in like a decent portal should then your eyes do that thing where they slip out of focus, you start to fall in and the music...


Chris Plant: Harmonic Portal

Start with Dark Side Of The Moon then think light, prism, spectrum and put the whole lot together and you might come up with something close to what Katarzyna Malejka and Joachim Slugocki are channelling with Spectra in St. James Square.

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Katarzyna Malejka & Joachim Slugocki - Spectra

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Katarzyna Malejka & Joachim Slugocki - Spectra


A Nightingale sang In Berkeley Square the popular ditty tells us, and we’ll take Cédric Le Borgne’s word for it that his illuminated branch sitting sculpture is indeed a nightingale, a very poetic response to the location – perhaps even the title “Was That A Dream?” nods to the likelihood of a nightingale ever having sung in the heart of the West End.

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Cédric Le Borgne - Was That A Dream?


Absolutely my favourite piece for its subtle lightness of touch and the ephemerality of dancing slivers of intense light was [M]ondes by Atsara (France). Geometric light shapes filter through the trees and illuminate the buildings surrounding Mount Street Gardens and in doing so catch on twigs or what appear to be loose coils of filament, the result is like watching the quicksilver flash of a shoal of spratt by a harbour wall or a dense pack (?) of moths divebombing through a searchlight. This had me so entranced I never thought to take a little video, which is a good thing if that omission motivates you to go and see it for yourself.

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Atsara - [M]ondes


Award for best invented word goes to Michael Davis for "Ilumaphonium", we could stop at that but Ilumaphonium is also a dazzling bit of neon light and clearly a lot of fun to interact with, the neighbours may be in for a sleepless night unless those drumsticks are hidden away. Those stained glass windows craftsmen knew what to do with a bit of light as well, didn’t they?

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Michael Davis – Ilumaphonium (see also top of the post)


The most stunning arena witnessed on this limited perambulation this evening was undoubtedly the courtyard of the Royal Academy, stunningly lit and beautifully animated by Rhys Coren, whose flat solid animation Love Motion captures two lovers engaged in a passionate kiss which the segues into a grand finale that looks like a cell division process, cause and effect in effect.

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Rhys Coren – Love Motion

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Rhys Coren – Love Motion


As someone who photographs a lot of graffiti and street art I have endured more than my fair share of comedy masculine anatomical wall decorations, perhaps that overload means Simon Corder’s Bough 3 has just triggered the wrong visual references in my brain. Or is it someone flipping the bird in a very lurid manner?

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Simon Corder – Bough 3


Reflektor was worth tracking down if not for its nursery lantern like effect then just to see if it did capture the spirit of Arcade Fire’s “difficult 4th album.” There was no connection.

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Studio Roso - Reflektor


Bravest effort of the night was Camille Gross and Leslie Epsztein’s animated projection onto the façade of the Café Royale. It was complex, detailed, animated and looking stunning on regency splendour of the architecture but it had the impossible task of competing with Coke and Hitachi on the famous Picadilly Circus billboard right alongside.

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Camille Gross & Leslie Epsztein - Voyage

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Camille Gross & Leslie Epsztein - Voyage


Just off lower Regents Street is Stéphane Masson’s supercube, a roughly 2m cube with a matrix of specimen jars on each side. Projected into the glass jars from within the cube was a set of girls who may well have walked down from Carnaby St after a Mary Quant styling session dancing to a little ditty somewhere between a nursery rhyme and some music hall nostalgia but the lyrics referred darkly to the boys and girls going to school, getting jobs, wearing suits, all turning out the same then the girls disappeared to be replaced by the faces of members of the public who had stared into the camera. The joke was on us, in a nice twist we WERE the ones who were all the same, or at least all those who stuck their vizogs into the camera lens for the thrill of seeing themselves in the glass bottles were.

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Stéphane Masson - Supercube


In St James’ Churchyard a family of 5 neon figures strides up towards Picadilly, not the most striking of the installations, if it wasn’t for the relatively minor interest of the light reflecting back from the railing spikes this one might not have bothered the camera.

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Alaa Minawi – My Light Is Your Light


Usually you wouldn’t want your lights buzzing but lack of buzz in this context is not a good thing. Tracy Emin’s neon “Be Faithful To Your Dream” was insipid in its message and lost in its distant location above a church door in a locked churchyard.

This was a start, looking at the guide – well worth investing £5 on the hardback guide as it makes navigating around far easier than using the VisitLondon App or the downloaded pdf map (minimum contribution £1) – there is something on at Kings Cross which may be investigated so long as it is relatively free of the famous human logjam that developed over previous lumiere weekends and also apparently there is something at major graffiti hall of fame Leake Street. Maybe there is light at the end of the tunnel!

Sat 20th Jan update: A wander around different locations, more Light Art photos added


After a wander around some of the highlights in Westminster, Southbank and Fitzrovia, here are some more photos:

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David Batchelor - Sixty Minute Spectrum


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Patrice Warrener - The Light Of The Spirit (Chapter 2)


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Vertigo - The Wave


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Footfalls For Rambert


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Patrice Warrener - The Light Of The Spirit (Chapter 2)


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Ulf Pedersen - Droplets


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Patrice Warrener - The Light Of The Spirit (Chapter 2)


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Vertigo - The Wave