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Canary Wharf is known for its Winter Lights Festival but often has a Summer Lights Festival that celebrates the beauty of natural light, and the long summer days.
On a beautiful sunny morning, I made a tour of some of the outdoor installations, there are 11 new installations, as well as 6 permanent pieces, around Canary Wharf for visitors to discover, plus a exhibition of hand-blown glass in the Lobby of One Canada Square.
Pointillist Bird by Yoni Alter, Wren Landing
Yoni Alter has taken inspiration from the pointillist movement of the 1880s characterised by the painting technique of applying small dots of paint to build up the whole picture. Here, 98 colourful translucent discs are suspended in mid-air to form a 3-meter-wide magnificent pointillist bird.
Helix by Calidos, Cabot Square
Helix is a conceptual representation of the DNA chain, the basic structure of human life. The structure works with the natural elements: wind gently rotates the structure, whilst sunlight catches and highlights the multi-coloured, reflective metal.
Love Birds by Atelier Sisu, Jubilee Park
Love Birds is an immersive and naturally kinetic installation. Gliding above the audience, the colourful birds flutter in the wind, catching the sunlight and casting shadows on the ground.
Lights on Data by Fisheye, Reuters Plaza
Have a seat and take a look at how this solar experiment unravels its secrets. As visitors enjoy this conceptual piece of city furniture, the sun creates an alluring shadow play filled with colour, reflection and even data.
Planet @ Risk by Mark Swysen, Water Street
A welded construction in aluminium suggests the 8 meridians and the Arctic and Antarctic polar circles of a huge see-through globe. On a sunny day the installation will appear to radiate through the reflection of sunlight in the central cylindrical mirrors.
Infinity and Beyond by Martin Richman & Emma Kate Matthews, Harbour Quay Gardens
Infinity and Beyond offers a layered and visually ambiguous experience of Canary Wharf’s Harbour Quay Gardens, presenting infinite reflections of adjacent buildings and multi-image patterns of the surroundings within each structure. Much like a kaleidoscope, each module is lined with reflective mirror, with holes cut in the surface.
This installation consists of six free-standing triangular units. They stand at three different heights to accommodate a wide range of visitors, including children, adults, pushchairs, and wheelchair users.
Expanded Landscapes by Nathaniel Rackowe, Harbord Square Gardens
Expanded Landscapes echoes and unpicks the built environment of Canary Wharf. Surface, colour, transparency, and form come together to act as an expansive counterpoint to the surrounding architecture.
Gleamhhh by OGE Design Group, Cubitt Steps
The Long and Winding Road by Ottotto, Harbour Quay Gardens
Made from corrugated drainpipes on a steel structure, this installation is a great example of the repurposing of materials, and the transformation of the functional into the beautiful.
The installation encourages people to walk within the and be bathed in the yellow light streaming through the pipes.
O.T. 1131 by Stefan Reiss, Level -1, Crossrail Place
Love IRL by Stuart Langley, Adams Plaza
Ebb & Flow by Louis Thompson, Lobby, One Canada Square
Ocean Rise by Aphra Shemza, Canary Riverside
Ocean Rise is a mixed reality sculpture that highlights the rise in sea levels due to global warming. The sculpture is made from recycled materials that emulate a wave creating a connection between the city and the ocean.
Shine Your Colours by Tine Bech, Canary Riverside
Captivated by Colour by Camille Walala, Adams Plaza Bridge
Tear by Richard Hudson, Jubilee Plaza
Kaleidoscopic Prisms by Fiona Grady, Jubilee Pavilion
The Knot by Richard Hudson, Water Street
An Hour of Glass By Colin Priest, throughout Canary Wharf
There is always plenty going on in Canary Wharf over the summer so why not try to spot in installations and the rather colourful steps.
This weekend sees the return of London’s annual outdoor dance festival over a two-day programme, showcasing performances across the various locations of Canary Wharf. Amongst many delights this year is dance circus on a forest of poles, a fusion of water and dance, acrobatics and juggling virtuosity based on the choreographies of Merce Cunningham.
Candoco Dance Company, “A Graceful Act of Stupidity
Wren Landing, 3pm & 5.15pm, 16 minutes
Join our two flight attendants as they take you on a journey that slips seamlessly between the everyday and the poetic. Brace yourself for a playful, yet poignant flight in this beautiful duet for Candoco Dance Company from New Art Club’s Tom Roden.
Alleyne Dance, “Bonded
Westferry Circus, 2.30pm & 5pm, 30 minutes
This beautiful performance on a strikingly designed transparent stage is created and performed by twin sisters, Kristina and Sade Alleyne, who explore dependency, particularly that of siblings, and how time can change and challenge relationships.
Joseph Toonga/Just Us Dance, “Born to Protest
Columbus Courtyard, 1pm & 3.30pm, 35minutes
This timely production dismantles presumptions about black male and female figures based on intimidation, danger and isolation, revealing instead character traits around fragility, vulnerability and a constant battle to prove oneself.
Joe Garbett Dance, “Doubles
Wren Landing, 1.45pm & 4.15pm, 20 minutes
Table tennis tables become the setting for this collision of dance and ping pong. Watch as the two competitors spin, slide and swerve their way through this playful pop-up performance.
Ofir YuDilevitch, “Gravitas
Jubilee Plaza, 1pm & 5pm, 30 minutes
This highly playful performance combines dance and acrobatics and explores the joy in simply letting gravity take charge. As two acrobats bounce and roll on an outdoor airmat, they realise that no matter how complex their acrobatic feats.
Joli Vyann, “Lance Moi En L’Air
Jubilee Place, 1.15pm & 3.45pm, 25 minutes
This acrobatic dance duet explores the sensitivity and connection between two people which brings about compatible contradictions: can we be strong whilst relaxed? heavy whilst light? grounded whilst flying? or submissive whilst in control?
Gandini Juggling, “LIFE
Cubitt Steps, 1.45pm & 3.45pm, 20 minutes
This love letter to the legendary Merce Cunningham imagines the possibility that one of the greatest figures in 20th century contemporary dance might have choreographed juggling. Featuring music by Pulitzer Prize-winning singer Caroline Shaw and five jugglers/dancers, this is a thrilling chance to preview a major new work due to tour throughout 2022.
Upper level, Canary Riverside, 1.50pm & 4.15pm, 30 minutes
Mayfly explores the fleeting, ephemeral nature of life and how our survival is inextricably linked to our environment. A spectacular fusion of water, dance and song together reminds us that nothing stays the same, but that we can stand up, overcome and create change.
Canary Riverside, 1 & 4.45pm, 44 minutes
This daring dance-circus production from Motionhouse, explores our disconnect with the natural environment: in our modern lives, is the wild still shaping our behaviour? With a design which imagines an urban forest in the heart of Canary Wharf, performers use powerful physicality and incredible feats to move through a jungle of tall poles.
New Adventures, “A Doorstep Duet
Montgomery Square, 1pm & 2.15pm, 10 minutes
Jubilee Place, 3pm, 4.30pm & 5.15pm, 10 minutes
Bank Street Park, 2.30pm & 3.15pm, 10 minutes
Harbour Quay Gardens, 4.15pm & 5.15pm, 10 minutes
A Doorstep Duet follows two everyday people being transported back in time through music and discovering the joy of dancing together in different eras. This unique piece has been specially created to provide a moment of escapism, joy and the sense of connection in these challenging times.
More information at Canary Wharf here
Canary Wharf is famous for its Winter Lights installations which lighten up the dark winter’s night, in contrast the new Summer Lights installations celebrates natural light across the Canary Wharf estate.
The Summer Lights exhibition features eleven new artworks that illustrate the natural light and the power of the sun’s rays.
On a warm sunny day, I wandered around to look at the installations.
Circle of Light Spectrum by toyStudio, Cabot Square
Circle of Light [Spectrum] is an exploration of the hidden nature of the sun in our natural environment. The installation expresses the many colours which make up sunlight and the visual spectrum, mapping them into an arc defined by the position of the sun at sunrise and sunset.
Hymn to the Big Wheel by Liz West, Wren Landing
Hymn to the Big Wheel is an immersive sculptural work exploring the illusion and physicality of colour and natural light in space. Consisting of a multicoloured octagon nestled within a larger octagonal shape, this work encourages the viewer to reposition and align themselves to differing colourways to see a changing scope of colours mixing before their eyes.
Whirl by Helena Doyle X Tom Cherry & Temple, Cubitt Steps
Whirl transforms the wind into a dynamic dance of colour and light. The audience is invited to sit beneath the domed structure, relax and enjoy the mesmerising light show overhead. Whirl aims to showcase the beauty and versatility of wind power and inspire the audience to imagine a future powered by renewable energy.
Out of the Cocoon by Amberlights, Wood Wharf
Out of the Cocoon is a colourful, interactive seating installation that can be admired both from afar and up close. As you walk around the structure see how the colours change before your eyes. The giant butterfly wings symbolise the new life that emerges.
Kilpi by toyStudio, Wood Wharf
Kilpi is the third installation in a series of sculptures by toyStudio inspired by traditional Nordic Sami huts and places of shelter in their most basic form. The installation’s intricate perforations are based on celestial maps and represent the constellations found in the skies above Canary Wharf.
Round and Round by Martin Richman, Jubilee Park
Round and Round brings the Jubilee Park ponds to life, creating a lively space full of reflecting and refracting shapes and colours. As the circles turn in the sun and wind, they create moving shapes illuminating everything around them, casting visually rich patterns of coloured light responding to the weather and the artificial illuminations within its orbit.
Summer Cloud We Dream Of You by Tine Bech Studio, Cabot Square
Summer Cloud invites you to dream and see the world around you. This playful work reflects both visitors and the world around us. The cloud is the perfect metaphor for our age. It’s shape-shifting qualities can inspire hope not only representing the idea of change but symbolising the human ability to dream.
Shine your Colours by Tine Bech Studio, Riverside
Shine your Colours is a multifaceted artwork that allows visitors to see themselves and the world through different colours. The installation consists of 6 transparent coloured glass panels that create a space focusing on wellbeing, where people can meet, relax and reflect.
Ocean Rise by Aphra Shemza, Riverside
Ocean Rise is a mixed reality sculpture that highlights the rise in sea levels due to global warming. Built using sustainable material the shape of the artwork emulates a wave in the ocean and is accompanied by a bespoke soundscape featuring field recordings of waves crashing on the shore created by the sound artist Mowgli, these can be accessed via a QR code.
Hidden Garden by Hugh Turvey, Crossrail Place Roof Garden
Hidden Garden is a scientific representation of flora, using the medium of x-ray imaging to highlight the hidden architectural structures within the subjects. Each image will cover a theme including sustainability, habitat, pollinators and medicinal, each captioned explaining either the science, research or statistics behind the image.
Kaleidoscopic Prisms by Fiona Grady, Jubilee Place, viewed from Jubilee Park
Kaleidoscopic Prisms by Fiona Grady is inspired by the children’s toy, combining a palette of rainbow transparent vinyl triangles that dance across the glass surface of the Jubilee atrium.
After lockdown, many people are enjoying the freedom to roam around and enjoy the fine weather, the installations provide a good reason to wander around Canary Wharf and enjoy the summer sun
This week, I was delighted to receive news of a new exhibition that offers many different perspectives of London life. Over the years, Isle of Dogs Life has featured many works by Frank Creber and he often works with other artists to provide a visual chronicle of London life.
Frank’s is best known for his topographical cityscape drawings of East London, he has worked for 35 years at the Bromley-by-Bow Centre, as a Creative Director and Community Artist to develop programmes and activities that integrate art, health, training and the environment.
Frank and six other artists present a collective body of work mostly made during lockdown, in a exhibition at CHROM.GALLERY in the centre of Dalston, London.
The work on display includes: Ben Kilburn’s abstract, colourful shapes drawing on the natural and built world; Frank Creber’s mysterious exploration of East London communities; Graham Stone’s evocative drawings of local scenes;
Hedy Parry-Davies’s exploration of beautiful decay of historic architecture; Jane Smith’s tranquil and harmonious city views; Rory Brooke ’s vibrant landscapes with a darker note with Covid and climate change icons; and Steve Edwards’ dramatic but peaceful compositions.
The group of artists are linked by a fascination with London and its landscapes and connections with society and contemporary issues, exploring underlying themes and new ways of seeing.
After the latest lockdown, I decided to enter the brave new world by taking a walk around Canary Wharf and taking a look of some of their new artworks and to enjoy some spring sunshine.
During the lockdown a series of new works have appeared and other works have been relocated, here is quick tour around some of these pieces.
One of the most noticable new pieces is Gillie & Marc: Tandem Lovers 2020 in Reuters Plaza, ‘Tandem Lovers’ takes you on an adventure with Gillie and Marc’s characters, Rabbitwoman and Dogman.
Near the Canary Wharf station is Richard Hudson: Tear which offers a different perspective of the large buildings.
Although Cabot Square is dominated by Henry Moore’s Old Flo, and new piece tucked away is Bob Allen’s: It Takes Two which is a bronze cast of a carving from the fallen bough of an ancient English Yew listed in the Domesday Book.
Jubilee Park is full of new pieces including Helaine Blumenfeld’s Fortuna
For a pychedelic expereience go to Adams Plaza Bridge for Camille Walala’s Captivated By Colour
For something completely different, have a look at Julian Wild: Scribbleform
In the Crossrail Place Roof Garden is Michael Lyons: Shepherd of the Sun and Julian Wild’s Origin (Vertical)
Until the 19th of June, the roof garden is transformed into Crossorelle Roof Garden, a magical installation inspired by the Jardin Majorelle in Marrakech.
Created by artists Baker & Borowski, the design is inspired by the history of the West India Docks and the plants that were brought there from faraway lands, such as North Africa.
Although it may be too early to visit museums and art galleries, there is plenty to enjoy artistically wandering around Canary Wharf.
© Photograph by Loren Brand
Although the Canary Wharf annual Winter Lights festival has been postponed, the estate has decided to bring some colour and light to the area with Connected by Light which is a specially curated collection of nine light artworks.
© Photograph by Loren Brand
Local photographer Loren Brand on a cold chilly night went to have a look at these new works which aim to bring a sense of calm and reflection in these difficult times as well as a much-needed splash of colour as the winter nights draw in.
© Photograph by Loren Brand
Tetra Park by Mandylights, Westferry Circus
Tetra Park is a geometric artwork that explores colour progressions through a complicated series of linear pathways. The series of stars sometimes appear to work together, while at other times the installation breaks down into seemingly chaotic colour. Their star forms remain true throughout though; shining as bold forms in the night for anyone who follows their path.
The Stories Under Our Feet by Elisa Artesero, Jubilee Park
A poetry trail across Jubilee Park is created by ephemeral shadows of text cast out from underneath the benches. Each cluster of benches form micro poems of a larger poem across the site. These dream-like poems encourage moments of contemplation, connection, and wonder.
Newfoundland Reflections by Hawthorn, viewing point at Mackenzie Walk
Newfoundland is a new Canary Wharf icon and a striking addition to the skyline. This stunning building will soon open its doors to its first residents but before then, we have transformed it into a beaming spectacle of light. Watch the colourful patterns evolve and glow in the waters below.
© Photograph by Loren Brand
Colour Cubed by Mandylights, Wren Landing
Colour Cubed is a simple exploration of the beauty that comes from a single light source. While we are constantly surrounded by vibrant displays of constant technology, the artwork uses a single traditional lamp along with long-used coloured glass techniques to cast a display of coloured light just as brilliant, dominant and inspiring as any other artwork or object in our lives.
Office Party by Parker Heyl, 20 Water Street
2020 has been defined by quarantine and social distancing, with many Londoners now working from home. “Office Party” comes from the playful idea that our work spaces may come to life in our absence. The blinds’ unexpected movement in an office after the workers have left, creates a moment of magic.
Curious Fluorious by Baker & Borowski, Crossrail Place Roof Garden
Artists Baker & Borowski are turning Lewis Carroll’s much-loved Alice in Wonderland into a magical fluoro installation for the modern day – Curious Fluorious. The installation features giant sculptural pieces that transform the space with a luminous glow, creating selfie moments aplenty, as we head on a magical journey through Crossrail Place Roof Gardens.
© Photograph by Loren Brand
Murmuration by Squidsoup, Montgomery Square
Several hundred networked orbs, each containing lights and speakers, visualise a swarm of networked data moving through real space. Welcome to Murmuration, a piece originally inspired by the flight patterns of flocks of starlings, here transformed into digital form, but navigating and negotiating its way around the physical location of Canary Wharf’s Montgomery Square. Originally commissioned by Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, AZ.
Ghost Trees by Tom Wilkinson, Middle Dock
Ghost Trees is a site-speciﬁc artwork that draws attention to an extraordinary prehistorical event. When the East India docks were constructed in 1790 evidence was found of the remains of a great subterranean forest in a state of preservation the trees were not scattered or dispersed but lay in regular order.These rings of light represent these hidden trees, glowing from under the dock’s surface.
© Photograph by Loren Brand
Neon Tree by Hawthorn, Canada Square Park
The artworks will be on display from Wednesday 2 December until 27 February to ensure visitors can take their time to enjoy them. Some installations can be viewed at any time of day, but others will only come to life after dark so, we advise you visit after dusk. All installations will be switched off at 10pm daily.
The Isle of Dogs has never been a place that is considered a centre of the Arts or Culture. However since 1996, The Space at the bottom of the Island has provided inclusive and ambitious theatre in a converted church.
The Space was opened by Robert Richardson and the St Paul’s Arts Trust, a group of local residents and quickly became known for staging exciting, unique productions. The also run workshops, courses and artist development opportunities. Space Productions has produced over 30 plays and received 6 Off-West End award nominations. Last year, they broke their box office records, hosting 9,407 audience members across 244 performances.
During lockdown, the Space run a Locked Down, Looking Up online programme which supported their practitioners, participants and audiences. Over the course of 16 weeks, they produced and staged 10 play readings, 30 theatre workshops, 16 theatre club sessions and 2.0 Fest, a special festival of 8 duologues 3 of which have won OnComm awards.
Like many other theatres, due to the pandemic they face a very uncertain future and have launched a crowdfunding promotion to raise funds. The theatre has had to deal with decreased income from traditional ticket sales, venue hires and rent from their cafe/bar. As a result, the Space now faces risks that could result in permanent closure.
The Space is due to celebrate 25 years as a theatre in September 2021 and any donations will provide a lifeline till performances get back to reasonable levels.
If you would like to donate follow this link
Photograph by Laureen Katiyo
Over the last few weeks, the nice weather has enabled people to come out of their homes and enjoy being outdoors. Long time regular contributor, Laureen Katiyo made her way into Poplar and came across a fun and innovative way of brightening up the ‘high street’.
Photograph by Laureen Katiyo
The programme called Start Here has provided a visual transformation of Aberfeldy street in Poplar. Building frontages have been painted in a patchwork of colours and decorated in patterns inspired by fabrics donated by members of the largely Bangladeshi community in a nod to the Kantha tradition of recycling old textiles to make something new. The intention is to bring colour and artwork onto Aberfeldy Street, highlight the high street and celebrate the cultural identity of local people.
Photograph by Laureen Katiyo
As part of the programme, Aberfeldy Street gives businesses or individuals the opportunity to start and trial their ideas on the high street. The aim is to develop an active high street that provides opportunities for local people whilst serving the local community.
Photograph by Laureen Katiyo
One community initiative is ‘The People Speak’, which a project that encourages people to speak to each other. The formats look familiar at first: a chat show , a game show or even a soccer kick-about, but once people are involved, there’s no limit to where they can take each other. No instruction manual is required, and they like to have as much fun and get just as involved as everyone else.” They are hosting another socially-distanced roundtable community discussion on the street next Thursday (27 August) evening from 7:30pm – 9pm, which is open to everyone.
Photograph by Laureen Katiyo
Laureen also visited The Tommy Flowers micropub named after Tommy Flowers who not only played a major part in codebreaking but also developed what many consider to be one of the first electronic computers.
Tommy Flowers was born in Abbott Road, Poplar where he developed his interest in engineering. In 1941 Tommy was asked to work at Bletchley Park with Alan Turing on a project to decode German messages. However it was in 1943 when Turing introduced Tommy to Max Newman that work began on the project that would make their name.
Photograph by Laureen Katiyo
It is easy to become downhearted with the present crisis but it is not all doom and gloom, many organisations and individuals are looking for new and innovative ways to create a pleasant community environment and offer opportunities for people to develop their community and business ideas.
Many thanks to Laureen Katiyo for the photographs.
Recently I was contacted by writer, illustrator and broadcaster Jude Cowan Montague who has just published her latest book entitled Love on the Isle of Dogs.
The book is a graphic memoir of her early life against the background of a changing Isle of Dogs in the 1990s. Jude Cowan Montague lived on the Isle of Dogs with her husband in the early 1990s, it was a whirlwind romance and a very difficult time for her as she became quickly pregnant and her husband’s mental health began speedily to degenerate. The stress increased and the knock on effect for both after the separation dominated their lives for years to come.
What is unusual about the book is that the story is first told visually using drawings and then by using text.
Jude’s drawings illustrate how the Island provided the background for her life and romance. In the beginning, the drawings have a children’s picture book quality but gradually they become darker and more menacing.
Jude’s husband was one of the participants in a self-build scheme on Westferry Road and their house was close to Mudchute Farm, which became for Jude, a welcome escape from the pressures of modern living.
The text part of the book is more about how Jude tried to make sense of her life as it enfolded from working at an Arts Centre and moving forward to marriage and motherhood. It is an honest portrayal, full of unrealistic dreams, denial, love, concern, anger, fear and loss.
The book is very much a modern love story about romance, marriage and having a child. However, not every story has an happy ending and a series of incidents turns the relationship into a nightmare. The Isle of Dogs like any place is not just a location but a home to thousands of people. Those people all have a story to tell but not everyone can tell that story in such a graphic or creative way like Jude. It is her talent that she can see her own story in a wider perspective and understands that sometimes the environment reflects the personal. The confusion and changing times of early 1990s Docklands reflected the strangeness of a relationship that moved quickly from light to darkness.
These are lessons, all of us have had to deal with in recent times, when the familiar has become strange and unsettling. We can take some solace from Jude’s end of the book which reflects her hope and determination to create better times in the future.
You can order or buy a copy of the book here
Last week I took the short ride over to Greenwich to come face to face with the three surviving versions of the famous Armada Portrait of Elizabeth I which are on public display together in a free exhibition at the Queen’s House in Greenwich. The exhibition, entitled Faces of a Queen: The Armada Portraits of Elizabeth I, is the first time the paintings have been displayed together in their 430-year history.
The Armada Portrait of Elizabeth I, circa 1588 © National Maritime Museum, London
The Armada Portraits are considered one of the most iconic images in British history and commemorates the most famous conflict in Elizabeth’s reign when the Spanish Armada failed in their attempt to invade England in 1588. Royal Museums Greenwich showcases its own version of the Armada Portrait alongside the two other surviving versions, from the collections of Woburn Abbey and the National Portrait Gallery.
The Armada Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I. From the Woburn Abbey Collection
For all the fame of the Armada Portraits, very little is known about them, they were believed to have been painted shortly after the Armada, in 1588. The origins of the paintings and artists are shrouded in mystery with some experts suggesting that three different artists or studios could be responsible for the three principal Armada Portraits working from a single template.
Queen Elizabeth I by Unknown English artist, circa 1588 © National Portrait Gallery, London
The Queen’s House is a wonderful setting for the exhibition which presents an unprecedented opportunity for visitors to explore closely the three iconic depictions of Elizabeth I. In all three versions, the Queen is shown in a rich gold-embroidered and jewelled dress with seascapes showing different episodes of the Spanish Armada story.
The Queen’s House is part of Royal Museums Greenwich. It is 17th century Palladian villa, designed by Inigo Jones, which is situated on the site of the original Greenwich Palace complex, which was a major political centre of the Tudor dynasty and the birthplace of Elizabeth I herself.
So in many respects, Greenwich with its Tudor and Maritime history is the ideal place to full understand how the paintings relate to an important part of British history, England’s defeat of the Spanish Armada was considered one of the greatest military victories in English history and Elizabeth was celebrated in portraits, pageants, and the literature of the day. Evidence of the Elizabethan era has largely disappeared from Greenwich, these portraits are a reminder that for hundreds of years that this part of London was the centre of British power and prestige.
Faces of a Queen: The Armada Portraits of Elizabeth I is open from 13 February – 31 August 2020 at the Queen’s House in Greenwich alongside the Woburn Treasures exhibition that runs from 13 February to 17 January 2021, both are free to visit.