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Light Night is back!

Jess Plunkett explores the festival that took place in Leeds


Leeds Light Night returned on October 14th-15th to liven up city centre in a flood of colour. Featuring over 40 installations from a plethora of artists, it was heart-warming to see the community reconnect once again in such large numbers to witness the spectacular displays.

Light Night 2021 is a return to normality, after being cancelled last year due to the pandemic. The rather fitting theme “Back to Nature”, highlights the importance of our environment and respect we should show towards it. Influential figures Greta Thunberg and David Attenborough are shedding a light and shifting public opinion to pay more attention to not only our own carbon footprints, but those of large corporations as well, with Leeds Light Night not falling victim to their own carbon footprint. Along with the displays, Light Night collaborated with Love Leeds Parks Foundation, creating the ‘Light Night Tree Planting fund’, to offset the event’s carbon footprint. This year, the event returned with a mission geared towards environmental sustainability as the world’s climate deteriorates.


There was no lack of choice on what to see this year either, but in case you missed it, here are some personal favourites:


GAIA, Luke Jerram

This installation was the clear showstopper. A large-scale view of the Earth as it appears from space… what’s not to love? The globe served as a ‘reminder of how precious Earth is and how it must be preserved for future generations. A particularly interesting and harmonious moment was witnessing families gathered around together, appreciating the true beauty of our planet in a way never seen before.


The installation cultivated many emotions. The sheer magnificence of the globe was jaw dropping, but when appreciating the work, it dawns upon humanity just how small our own world is. Nobody in outer space cares about Sharon from work who’s late on the paperwork or how embarrassing you were on your last night out. Although the concept is a frightening one, there’s also peace in remembering, even just for a moment, the insignificance of our worries.


ENTWINED LIGHT, Stoitsova and Bencini

A cove of strings illuminated by neon lights, Entwined Light ‘tells the story of the ever-evolving relationship between the artificial and the natural through form and light’. One can be convinced the cove was created using multicoloured LED light strips. A closer inspection reveals the lights are in fact neon strings, illuminated by a projection underneath.


When first approaching the sculpture, one might find it disappointing that the light streams are simply fabric strings tied together. However, the piece gives a peculiar perspective into the multidisciplinary approach between environment, technology and how they are manipulated in the real world to create artistic structures and so much more. One cannot live without the other, and combined, they are magnificent.


THE NECTARY, Smith and Hassall

Finally, The Nectary, an immersive experience, morphed the audience into a pollinating insect, jumping from flower to flower. Although slightly strange, reversing the viewer’s perspective to experience nature at the microscopic level, the audience is immediately connected with Earth, reinforcing the insect’s value in our everyday lives, and highlighting their surroundings to human beings.


Overall, the exhibition was a success; not only did the event support the struggling arts industry after almost two years of restrictions, but it also covered the important and topical subject of climate change for a sustainable future, for future generations.


If you would like to find out more about the Light Night Tree Planting Fund, check out the link: https://loveleedsparks.org.uk/current-campaigns/

 

Words and Photography by Jess Plunkett


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