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‘Hymn to the Big Wheel’ by Liz West
Photograph: David Parry‘Hymn to the Big Wheel’ by Liz West

There’s a new festival of summer lights in Canary Wharf

Big colourful lights have arrived in the business district to feed the Instagram beast

Written by
Katie McCabe
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The arrival of large-scale light installations in London is pretty standard for the winter months. By November, there are usually three or four elaborate LED-laden trails across the city, each trying to coax us all into feeling Christmassy. But this year, one has arrived early in the form of Summer Lights at Canary Wharf, a festival brought to you by the same people behind the area’s Winter Lights festival.

Much like its cold-season sibling, Summer Lights is an exhibition of individual works by UK light artists (there are 11 in total), and will be free to visit, but the summer edition is designed to be explored during the day, and uses bright sunlight to ‘reflect and refract a spectrum of colours’ with installations that respond to themes of sustainability, plastic pollution and LGBTQ+ culture. 

‘Ocean Rise’ by Aphra Shemza
Photograph: David Parry‘Ocean Rise’ by Aphra Shemza

One of the most eye-catching light works is ‘Hymn to the Big Wheel’, a huge multi-coloured octagon structure that sits inside a larger octagonal shape that visitors can walk through, watching the colours blend as they go. Others to look out for are Hugh Turvey’s X-ray images of flora and algae inside Crossrail Place Roof Garden and Aphra Shemza’s ‘Ocean Rise’, a sustainably built structure which carries a field recording of crashing waves that can be accessed by QR code. 

As with most light experiences in London, it’s easy Instagram fodder, but if you happen to work near Canary Wharf, this free festival is worth a look. 

When is it? On until Aug 21. Where is it? Across the Canary Wharf estate. Find out more here

In other news, you can see ballet performed in a giant plastic bubble on the Royal Docks

Not into light shows? Check out London’s top 10 art shows this summer. 

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