Girl About Town: The Hayward Light Show

This is the final post before the Easter break so I just wanted to pop on and say Happy Easter everybody! I’m heading home with Pete to spend time with family, planning an overnight getaway and culture filled day in Liverpool, some baking projects and downtime, to recharge before April arrives. I hope you all have a relaxing and fun-filled few days with people you love. xo

I can’t do art galleries. While others can look, feel and appreciate the skill and visuals, if it’s not “pretty” to look at, functional or historical then I just don’t get it. My brain isn’t wired that way. I’m always looking for an answer in amongst those little coloured dots, a hidden message in those scribbles. The solution to a centuries-old puzzle in a room full of butterflies or conveyed to us via the medium of oil paint… yeah, yeah, I know, I read too much Dan Brown when I should have been writing my dissertation and I regularly forget that I don’t live in a world of Horcruxes and Beedle the Bard.

Basically, unless there’s a curator there to talk me through it, art just stresses my puny brain out.

But, enough about my uncultured soul. Shall I tell you what I do like?


Nothing pleases my eye, my brain and my soul more than light! Soft light in my lounge for sofa snuggling, bright light over my front door to feel safe on arrival at home, daylight for wide-awakeness in the morning (and for doing make up) in my bedroom. Christmas lights, neon lights, festival lights, runway lights as you come in to land over your home city. You can keep your Caribbean beach scenery, rolling hills around the Med, the African bush, the Aussie outback and Santorinian calderas… nothing makes me catch my breath like a cityscape seen from on high, blinking to life as the sun sets and a galaxy of twinkles emerges to mirror the stars above (that we so rarely see these days)… sigh.

Nature’s great, but for me, a surge of electricity pulsing a current through wire filament in a gas-filled glass tube is better!

Sorry. I’m a philistine.

To that end, when I saw the exhibition Light Show advertised at the Hayward Gallery I thought it would make a good Mother’s Day present/activity from me and my Baby Bro. I then also realised that my father, who has worked with lighting for years, might also be interested in attending (d’oh!), so I booked tickets for the four of us and set about planning our family day out.

The exhibition starts off with, what is in my opinion, the most amazing piece of the show, Cylinder II by Leo Villareal. It was transfixing. I could have stood there for hours to watch it rise and fall, glitter and sparkle, pulse and oscillate, as patterns of light were born and died in front of my eyes. Each a unique pattern, never to be seen again. I didn’t want to look away in case I missed something even more amazing. Sadly, photography isn’t allowed, but then again, no iPhone snap would do it justice. If I one day won the lottery I would have one of these installed in my dining room.

From there the installations varied from tiny motorised sculptures to large interactive exhibits and whole rooms where you can even become part of the Light Show yourself, my favourite being You and I , Horizontal (ooo eer!) by Anthony McCall. Along the way I found not just examples of aesthetically pleasing light-art, but also instances of mesmerizingly-good scientific/mathematical calculations masquerading as art, as demonstrated in Jim Campbell‘s Exploded View (Commuters). Some items were funny, particularly Throw by Ceal Floyer which actually made me chuckle to myself, some made me feel (inexplicably) a bit sad, like Lamentable by Francois Morellet, while others were just a bit dull (naming no names!). It all adds to the variety.

I really enjoyed the Chromosaturation rooms by Carlos Cruz Diez which highlighted to our little group the amazing effect light and colour has on us as human beings, not just on our bodies, but on our moods and our interactions with those around us.

I’d also like to say a special thank you to Ivan Navarro for his Reality Show which caused me great embarrassment as I attempted to recreate Justin Timberlake’s Rock Your Body video, forgetting I was “hidden” behind one-way glass! You can take the girl out of Essex…

If you’re in the area, I’d highly recommend it popping in for an hour or two. You can buy tickets here and can download an exhibition guide in advance for swotting up on your installation art here.

I’d also like to point out that we visited at around midday on a Saturday, and it surprised me there were a lot of children in attendance. It hadn’t occurred to me that it would be something that would appeal to those of a young age, being as it’s a gallery and there’s no touching/running/talking/fun allowed etc, but watching the kids interact with the exhibits and squeal with delight as they saw the effect they could have on the light made me realise that it’s actually a good place to take children – so if you’re holding back because of little ones, don’t! Equally, if you don’t like your outings kid-free, go at non-child-friendly times so as not to ruin your enjoyment of the lights!

So, after all this arty-farty ness, I’m feeling pumped for more gallery visits. Does anyone have any recommendations?


PS! Find Victoria over on her blog Sugar Plum Slipper or on twitter @VictoriaHale.

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