Thursday 3 December 2015 – Media Release

Winter Lights 2016: Massive Alien and a Flutter of Butterflies to Light Up Canary Wharf this January 11th – 22nd

London’s dark January nights are set to be illuminated by an 18 foot high alien, a flutter of butterflies and a digital waterfall, all depicted using innovative forms of light technology. These form part of a new exhibition which opens in Canary Wharf on 11th January 2016.

The Winter Lights Festival 2016 will bring 18 different sculptures, structures and experiences to Canary Wharf, many of them interactive or responsive, created by artists from four continents. As a collection, the pieces will showcase the work of some of the most inventive and exciting international artists working with light today.

Introducing Winter Lights Festival 2016, curator Keith Watson of Canary Wharf Group says: “This rich, diverse exhibition of light demonstrates some of the most creative light installations and technology from around the world. Many of the works are interactive, creating enchanting experiences that will appeal to art lovers, families, or simply people looking for something interesting and free to do after work.”

A number of the pieces explore how we communicate in the modern world. Julius Popp’s creation bit.fall, which comes back to Canary Wharf after popular demand, taps into live news feeds, repeating the words that make up the news, which cascade into the docks below, effectively creating a waterfall of digital typography. Similarly, Bitone’s interactive light sculpture Totem responds to the presence of mobile phone signals in the air around it. The stronger and more numerous the phone signals, the brighter and more vivid the sculpture appears.

Raoul Simpson, the creator of Totem, explains: “Totem seeks to explore the hidden signals that surround us and keep us in touch with our family, friends and our work. By capturing and representing these signals through light and sound, Totem becomes an interactive conversation between viewers about the technology that underpins our societies.The piece reacts to both “passive” and “active” participants, in other words, those who create or cancel a call in order to interact or those who discover the signals they emit without their knowledge.”

Other installations are also interactive, with the viewer encouraged to physically touch and engage with the works in order to provoke different visual and audio reactions. Jen Lewin’s The Pool consists of 106 individual touch-sensitive pods installed on the ground. As the viewer walks or jumps on them, the pods light up in response to the pressure. A group of people, working in synchronised fashion or acting randomly, can create dynamic displays.

One of the most topical pieces is my light is your light [sic] by Palestinian artist alaa minawi [sic]. The work was created as an act of solidarity with Syrian refugees and consists of neon light silhouettes of a family of six frantically fleeing a conflict zone.

Speaking about his work, alaa minawi [sic] explains: “my light is your light… [sic] is a tribute to the Syrian refugees who have been going through extremely painful humanitarian conditions. It is also a tribute to every refugee in general, who transforms into a radiating outline of a human once forced from home. The six figures represent a family made up of a father, a mother, a grandfather, an aunt and two children. A family that has been walking for years, and it seems as though the youngest of all has found something interesting. It is an installation that reflects both harshness and aspects of hope.”

Aura, an installation sponsored by Philips, is the product of a series of conversations and experiments about the role of light and sound in everyday life between Paul Thursfield, creative director at Philips Group Innovation, and Simon Rycroft, a student of Goldsmiths College. Aura is a liquid light and sound experience that appears to change shape and form in the presence of the viewer.

Explaining their work, Paul Thursfield says: “Aura is a new kind of light form created from light and sound that pulses with the rhythms of life. Aura apparently becomes liquid as it shape shifts and continuously changes timbre, entrancing and relaxing people as it responds to the environment around it. Aura also responds to people’s presence, becoming a visceral experience that is part musical instrument, part emotional response, enabling people to express things that cannot be put into words.”

Amanda Parer brings Fantastic Planet all the way from Australia, a piece especially commissioned for Canary Wharf.  Inspired by the film ‘Fantastic Planet’ [1973], this huge inflatable illuminated white figure will occupy a prime position at Canary Wharf. From afar it will give visitors the impression that it has just landed and is quietly and gently exploring our ‘fantastic planet’.

Winter Lights 2016 is free to the public and can be seen across the Canary Wharf Estate from 11th January to 22nd January. The illuminations can be discovered in a wealth of different locations and a full list of the installations is below.

In conjunction with the Winter Lights Festival, an exhibition by artist Nathaniel Rackowe featuring spectacular sculptural works using light will be on display in the lobby of One Canada Square from 11th January to 12th February 2016, presented in collaboration with The House of the Nobleman.


Event Information:

11 – 22 January 2016 (*to 14 Jan & **to 12 Feb)
The majority of works will be best viewed from dusk. Some installations will be switched off at around 9pm.
Canary Wharf
E14 5AB

Aether & Hemera (Italy, based in UK), On the Wings of Freedom, Jubilee Park – An installation of 94 LED butterflies, interactive via mobile device

Bitone (Ireland), Totem, Cabot Square – A sculpture activated by mobile phone signal

Ray Lee (UK), Chorus*, Columbus Courtyard – A kinetic sound sculpture

Simon Rycroft / Paul Thursfield (New Zealand / UK), Aura, Crossrail Place – A liquid light and sound structure  that changes shape and form in response to the presence of people

Tom Wilkinson (UK), Light Sphere, Adam’s Plaza, Crossrail Place – A 2m diameter spinning circle covered in LEDs

alaa minawi [sic] (Palestine, based in Lebanon), my light is your light…, Jubilee Park – A light sculpture depicting a family of Syrian refugees

Amanda Parer (Tasmania), Fantastic Planet, Westferry Garden – A giant illuminated figure

Julius Popp (Germany), bit.fall, Chancellor Passage – A waterfall of illuminated words sourced from live news feeds

Collectif Coin (France), Globoscope*, Jubilee Park – A performance piece using many luminous spheres, each representing a point in space

Daan Roosegaarde (Netherlands), Liquid Space 6.1*, Adam’s Plaza, Crossrail Place – A light sculpture that comes alive and reacts to the presence of the viewer

Daniel Iregui (Canada), Moon, Crossrail Place – An interactive sculpture that encourages the viewer to use their arms to manipulate light and sound

Gebhard Sengmüller (Austria), A Parallel Image, Crossrail Place – An electronic camera obscura that transmits each pixel individually through 2,500 separate cables

Gonzalo Bascuñan / Perrine Vichet (Chile / France, based in the Netherlands), Flawless, Crossrail Place – An installation that mimics the process of photosynthesis, absorbing light during the day to create glowing colour at night

Jen Lewin (USA), The Pool, Montgomery Square – Giant concentric circles of touch-sensitive pods activated when people stand, dance or jump on them

Martin Richman (UK), We Could Meet, Adam’s Plaza, Crossrail Place – A grid structure of rods illuminated by fibre optics to create changing light sequences

Stephen Newby (UK), Infinity Pools, Middle Dock – Creating a highly ‘illuminating’ artistic experience using infinity mirrors

Lumen, Lumen Art Prize, Crossrail Place – Showreel of works by prize-winning artists

Nathaniel Rackowe (UK), The Luminous City**, Lobby, One Canada Square

For further information, please contact:

Ajay Teli
Canary Wharf Group
020 7418 2326

Amy  Penn
Canary Wharf Group
020 7418 2166

Getting here:

London Underground: Canary Wharf station is on the Jubilee Line and is a 2 minute walk to Canada Square Park
DLR: Canary Wharf & Heron Quays DLR stations are within a few minutes walking distance to Canada Square Park
Thames Clippers: The Thames Clipper docks at the Canary Wharf Pier, a 10 minute walk to Canada Square Park
Bus: D3, D7, D8, 135, 277 all go to Canary Wharf.

About Canary Wharf Group

Canary Wharf Group plc has overseen the largest urban regeneration project ever undertaken in Europe, designing and building more than 16m sq ft of iconic London real estate which now houses local and international companies and renowned retailers.

The Canary Wharf Estate is a major retail destination comprising five shopping malls, including the new leisure development, Crossrail Place, housing one of London’s most stunning roof gardens.  It also has world-class, year-round arts and events programme offering over 100 diverse and culturally inspiring events performed throughout the Estate.

Canary Wharf Group is a wholly owned joint venture between Brookfield Property Partners and the Qatar Investment Authority.