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The Illuminated River project just lit up five more bridges across the Thames

Stretching across 3.2 miles, the Illuminated River project is the longest public art commission in the world

Written by
Katie McCabe

Light installations are a big industry. Every year, bright, ambitious projects light up somewhere in London, whether it’s in the name of art, like the ‘Constellations’ piece from Anthony James that’s currently beaming over Oxford Street, or in the name of Christmas, like the multicoloured LED trail that appears every year at Kew Gardens. But Illuminated River might be the most extra light installation of them all. The public art project has been in the works since 2016, and aims to light up 9 bridges across the Thames. Stretching across 3.2 miles, it is the longest public art commission in the world. 

Illuminated River
Photograph: James Newton, Waterloo Bridge

Earlier this week, Illuminated Bridges moved on to its next phase to include five more bridges, lighting up Blackfriars Road, Waterloo, Golden Jubilee, Westminster and Lambeth Bridges. The idea is that the lights will be switched on every evening until 2am, giving passers-by a new view of the Thames. Each gets a different colour treatment, a sort of rosy-pink for Blackfriars, white for the Golden Jubilee, while Waterloo has ‘pastel washes’ of light. The design by New York artist Leo Villareal was created using a lighting algorithm, which means the patterns of movement are continually changing, and are never repeated. The whole project is set to cost around £31 million, and has been bankrolled in part by the Arcadia Fund

It’s meant to turn the Thames into one big, free art installation, but has the added bonus of helping you remember which bridge is which, even if it’s only by colour.

Find out more about the Illuminated River project here

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