IT IS not everyday that you are invited to walk through a rainbow or to watch on as a whale surfaces from the River Aire, but for one night only the Leeds cityscape bathed in illusionary multi-coloured lights, inspired by the collective imagination of talented artists.
Light Night, held for the 11th year, gave the metropolis a distinctly other-worldly atmosphere during a captivating event that demonstrates just some of the artistic flair and almost child-like creativity that can inspire the city’s upcoming bid for European Capital of Culture status in 2023.
Many of the city’s most iconic landmarks, both historic and modern, became a unique canvass or backdrop for light-based artwork this evening, attracting thousands of members of the public who gazed in wonder - a key aim of the event being to encourage people to come together in the city centre to celebrate the Leeds art community.
Among the mesmerising artworks was ‘Whale Song’ in which LCI Productions combined light, sound and water to depict a whale surfacing from the Aire.
At Leeds Town Hall the crypt was blasted with colour and light for ‘Our Colour Perception’ in a creative attempt to give people the visual sensation of strolling through a rainbow.
Light graffiti artist Michael Bosanko ‘painted’ with air and light in Millennium Square where he asked young volunteers to hold a stance in front of a camera while he moved illuminated props around them. A series of photographs later and a big screen displayed the finished work - patterns of light incorporating his volunteer as a stationary ‘object’ within the same frame.
The Cardiff-based artist explained why working with light was so much fun.
He said: “It’s a unique art medium because it’s not a precision art form. Sometimes the anomalies can be rewarding. It’s like painting with your eyes closed. I hope it fuels the imagination of other people to get into this. I think it’s more creative than using a pen and paper.”
‘The Seventh Wave’ inside Trinity Leeds’ central atrium involved light and sounds of the natural world to evoke dramatic weather skyscapes at half-hour intervals, and an installation at Leeds Cathedral explored humanity’s relationship with the sun using images from NASA.
Another highlight was a lantern parade through the city centre led by the Holbeck-based creative community, Pyramid of Arts. A giant owl art piece headed up the procession; the bird is an enduring symbol of Leeds having featured on the city’s coat-of-arms belonging to Leeds’ first Alderman, Sir John Savile.
As well as being an assault on the eyes, this year’s line-up included more than 60 free performances, displays, films and interactive installations spread across the city.
The spectacle benefitted from the impetus created by 2015 being declared the UNESCO International Year of Light.
The UN adopted light as its annual theme in recognition of the importance of raising global awareness about how light-based technologies promote sustainable development and provide solutions to challenges in energy, education, agriculture and health.
Last year’s Light Night attracted around 50,000 people into the city centre and organisers at Leeds City Council will be hoping to have topped that figure this time around.