Lumiere London on a Brompton 18 01 16

Out into the cold air that seemed to become colder with every pedal my Brompton took me eastwards.   Under crystal clear skies, warm December had been replaced by cold January. Pushing each foot down faster and faster, enough heat was eventually generated to bring a ready-brek type glow to my body and a smile to my face.

 

1 Looking Along the River

Far above my head, hidden by the urban lights, stars were twinkling down at the brighter than normal planet earth that would be shining back at them. At Westminster Bridge, the view along the river was a moment to reflect and take in the beauty of the city at night.  A night time view from a bicycle that normally means a ride to the coast at midnight but somewhat confusingly this was a ride of a little more than 10 miles within the confines of the Capital.

2 Illuminated Brompton

Below The London Eye, queues of people were preparing for their night time flight.  If ever the lights of London were going to excel themselves this was going to be one of them.

Months and months ago, people in a myriad of different organisations had been putting together quite the most spectacular event.   London, the home of museums and galleries for three nights had itself become a museum, exhibiting pieces of art – in light.

Curators weren’t individuals – they were organisations. The London Assembly, TFL and several London boroughs all working together to create this incredibly unique experience.

7 Listening

16 of us met with our small wheeled bicycles, some of whom had already cycled to Greenwich in, successful, search of Meantime Beer.  Others were heading in from Surrey and Cambridge. This was going to be some ride.

9 Westminster Abbey

After quite a bit of chit chatting we headed over Westminster Bridge to see the pompadour pink elements added to Westminster Abbey.   Along Birdcage walk and into Trafalgar Square which was so full of people it felt as though it was New Year’s Eve, then on to Coutts on the Strand.

14 Bow Tie

In their window, three little dogs were causing a clein d’oill as they weren’t made from balloons but of light.

Back on the road we returned to Trafalgar Square to increase our numbers by two. The iconic Centre Point lighting had relocated to ground level, a new statue had an illuminating bow tie and a fountain had a flotilla of plastic bottles – a slight reminder of how easy it is to create rubbish in a flash of thirst.

 

15 Plastic Islands by Luzinterruptus

In their window, three little dogs were causing a clein d’oill as they weren’t made from balloons but of light.

Back on the road we returned to Trafalgar Square to increase our numbers by two. The iconic Centre Point lighting had relocated to ground level, a new statue had an illuminating bow tie and a fountain had a flotilla of plastic bottles – a slight reminder of how easy it is to create rubbish in a flash of thirst.

16 Rushes and Reeds

We stood and stared for quite some time, the colours and creations were so imaginative – nothing like the commercial and somewhat harsh neonic displays usually associated with central London lighting.

 

22 Bromptons lighting up St Jamess Square Gardens

Down Haymarket, along Pall Mall and into St James’s Square where we found ourselves in the middle of the gardens  – not normally accessible to the public.

20 Les Voyageurs by Cedric La Borgne

As we stood in the dark, all around us we could see Les Voyageurs – images of human form some of whom were suspended in the air, others just watching us. “Who is looking at whom?“ I wondered.

 

29 On the Road Again

Out on the road again and as we stood at traffic lights, I found myself standing outside a building in Jermyn Street that I used to commute to every day for a year – by bus. How different those days would have been had I discovered travelling by bike.   Distracted by such a tbought, my mind then filled with memories of seeing a play at The Jermyn Street Theatre where the stage is nearly the same size as the seated audience. If you’ve never been, it is well worth a visit.

23 Piccadilly Arcade by Beth J Ross

Picaddilly Arcade took to words – Beth J Ross greeted both the entrances with phrases from life. Simple but true.

27 Light Capturing at Piccadilly

Onto Piccadilly where Les Lumineoles had taken hold of the sky. Large whale like creatures drifted from side to side making us all stand and stare in a trance like state.  Beautiful, delicate and enormous.

26 195 Picaddilly by Novak

It seemed perfectly fitting that BAFTA should take part in such a creative series of evenings. Their building became a giant screen portraying images of actors and directors from British Film.

28 Groupe Frames by LAPS

At Piccadilly Circus, an elephant stood and watched from up high the shenanigans of the street. Around the corner in Regent Street, Keyframes gave a mesmerising display of matchstick men moving around a façade at No 222.

30 Best Goldfish Bowl everAlong Maddox Street and into Grosvenor Square where possibly the most beautiful light installation of all – especially as the current BBC1 series Great Barrier Reef takes such a unique look at one of the Great Wonders of the World.

My fondest, earliest memories with my father are sitting down and watching Jacques Cousteau films – in black and white it was so long ago – of life underwater. (Jacque Cousteau invented the Self-Contained-Underwater-Breathing-Unit AKA Scuba).   These programmes created a fascination of life underwater that took me to the Great Barrier Reef for a year and has a special place in my heart – the closest thing to riding a bicycle – so the BT Phone box full of fish made me smile from deep within.  Different fish, very different location but to see goldfish swimming around the inside of a BT Phone Box was breath taking not least as it was so unexpected.

To some of course, the existance of a BT Phone Box was more surprising than the fact it was full of fish! Ironic to see the number of mobiles being used to take photographs.

34 A CraneA quick tour of Berkeley Square where a mini cab driver was so keen on taking his clients to Annabel’s, he nearly took me with him as he turned across my bows.  The shout of “Oi” rather than “All Up” brought the ride leader to a halt and the mini cab driver stopped with enough space for me to catch up with the ride.

35 Brothers and Sisters by Ron Haselden

A crowd of faces in Grosvenor Square in front of the soon to be emptied US embassy just near what seemed like a Bridget Riley installation.

33 Spinning Light in Living Colour

 

Painting by dots is a concept introduced to me by a friend when attending an exhibition at The Courtauld Institute a few years ago. The artist, George Seurat, specialised in this technique and features in an online exhibition run by Artsy whose mission is to make art more accessible by being online.  George Seurat not only pushed boundaries in painting but also inspired Bridget Riley whose work I first saw at The Tate Modern in 2000.  The dots continue…

In reality I was looking at an art installation entitled Spinning Night in Living Colour by Elaine Buckholtz but as I stood and stared at the illuminous stripes I couldn’t quite believe how many paths of my past were being brought to life again in my mind.

36 Sanctuary by Sarah Blood

We cycled around the square, into Duke Street and on to Brown Hart Gardens where a display of neon bird boxes was so simple yet eyecatching.  Another discovery of somewhere never noticed before – a public space above an old electricity substation.

38 On Schedule as always

Much stopping and photo taking, chatting and sightseeing – all from our very own bicycles.  Despite the stops and starts, right on cue we reached our destination just before the allotted hour!

39 Here we are

The Identified Flying Object outside Kings Cross Station created just enough space and light for a group photo, kindly taken by a member of the public.

Meanwhile the misjudgement of what-to-wear had reached spectacular levels – I was wearing all my emergency clothing but had made the fundamental error of leaving the perfect-at-low-levels-cashmere jumper behind.  Windstoppers are great, but you need something to generate or at least maintain some warmth if you are not pedalling very hard.

 

Whilst working out how to warm up a bit, the ride leader took us straight into Kings Cross Station for a very welcome coffee stop.  Tempting though it was to go home to prepare for a 5am start the next day, it seemed too ridiculous to leave the ride at this point.

44 Dresses by Tae gon KIM

Next stop Granary Square where the fountains had given way to a son et lumiere production.  A seven minute illuminated story about a circus that was so meticulously planned, animated and real windows lined up perfectly.

It was a complete surprise to find couture in lighting.  Tae won Kim’s Dresses was so beautiful that we would have stayed much longer if only it hadnt been so cold.

Behind us an array of lights along the canal basin were a fitting end to a truly brilliant event.

47 binaryWaves by LAB au

Despite the dropping temperature, cycling home seemed the sensible option and gave an opportunity to warm up and reflect on the events of the day.   Without a doubt, the creativity of the lightworks and the gentle ooooohs and ahhhhhhhs accompanying the amiable atmosphere generated by the crowds made the evening truly memorable.

The level of detail, the involvement of all the sponsors and companies who ensured that this event happened in such an enjoyable way have my heart felt thanks.   To take part in it was an absolute joy and I hope that it becomes an annual event.

45 Who is this

Two days later it seems that over crowding took place but hopefully that is something that can be managed and accommodated next year.  To see it from the wheels of my Brompton was the perfect travel solution.

The magic of London Brompton Rides was completely matched by the spirit of the evening, the fastidious yet completely care-free way in which they are led, allowing us all to soak up the sights, conversation and atmosphere without having to think for a nano second where we are going.  A truly memorable evening.

Thank you peeps.

 

 

 

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