Leeds Student went down to the city centre to explore the wealth of cultural activity going on for Leeds’ annual Light Night
On Friday 5 October, for one night only, the city of Leeds was lit up and full of life and celebration (and not just because there were 80p drinks at Space). This year’s annual ‘Light Night’ event involved over 60 different installations, performances and artistic pieces, with crowds of people queuing to get into venues, filling the squares and streets despite the cold and rain.
Having started in 2005, Light Night aims to bring together the city by encouraging g artists to create works which engage the public and light up the town after dark. Leeds completely embraces this idea and the event is very much about showcasing the work of local artists and performers; something which the city has come to be very proud of.
For the first time this year, Light Night came with a theme: ‘Dead of Night’. Each artist was able to interpret this theme as they wished through their installations, which included an orb of light with created mysterious images and effects, and drawings with light and sound. Squares and streets were filled with film screens, lanterns and projections, while even more was to be discovered and explored inside Leeds’ buildings.
From ‘(you are) Lost’, which involved a treasure hunt across the town, to ‘Zombie Aerobics’, which allowed the public to participate in the masses, the night had many things to offer. The West Yorkshire Playhouse’s ‘Midnight Fairground’ particularly encapsulated this lively atmosphere with live music, fancy dress for all and “theatrical treats” taking place throughout the evening.
But this is not an event exclusively for the ‘culture vultures’ amongst us: it is something that everyone should experience. It is a night when the whole city comes together; creating a great atmosphere, a sense of community, and pride in the local talent that is evidently present in Leeds. If you weren’t there this year, you certainly should be next time!
At first, walking to the top of the Town Hall Clock Tower seems like a good idea – 203 steps later, it seems a less attractive prospect. Nevertheless, the view of Leeds is well worth the climb. The city, for one night only is literally illuminated by community spirit, art and performance. Light Night is a fantastic way to appreciate the lesser known artists of West Yorkshire and with so much to choose from, stumbling upon hidden gems is inevitable.
Produced by Alice Withers of Leeds Met, ‘Darkness Appreciation’ was an alternative installation piece which played on the concept of training oneself for a world of darkness. The installation began by guiding participants into the space blindfolded. By eliminating the participant’s sight, they explored the heightening of other senses to compensate through various ‘tasks’. The tasks included drawing a picture and eating with a knife and fork (which are much harder than they sound!). The installation reached beyond the live event, as a photo was taken during the piece and made available to download from Facebook. This was a nice touch to make the installation memorable and worked as a way of metaphorically giving sight back to the participant.
What is so appealing about Light Night is the diversity of the events around the city. ‘Lightweight Orb’ was a technically innovative piece focussed on a 5 metre inflatable sphere. The installation used an antique motion camera to capture images of faces, which were then manipulated and projected onto the glowing orb in the centre of Briggate. The fusion of dated and 21st century technology gave the piece an interesting twist on how modern society creates and absorbs multimedia. With a continuous crowd throughout the night, this proved to be a popular event which stemmed from its interaction with the audience.
Other notable events included ‘Get Stuffed’ at The Carriageworks; a photograph exhibition of adopted ‘pets’ from the Artemis taxidermy collection. This was an interesting exhibition which offered children and adults the chance to see a range of extraordinary animals up close and perfectly preserved. From parakeets to pufferfish, you are invited to have your photo taken with any or all of the animals on display. Although a one-dimensional and limited exhibition, ‘Get Stuffed’ was nonetheless great fun for the whole family.
Whether you want to visit a wide range of indoor events or simply walk through the city and be entertained by the street performers, Light Night has something for everybody. Having attended the past three Light Nights, each year has grown and developed into something greater than the last. Light Night 2013 is not to be missed!
Jennifer Smith and Emma Reidy
Photo: Mindy Goose