Light reading

In an attempt to source some Vitamin D after a long and cold winter, and always keen to absorb a few rays of culture, a handful of PLBR-ers recently attended the Light Show at London’s Hayward Gallery. To say it was an illuminating experience would be an understatement; I found myself wide-eyed and open-mouthed at the must-see, sold-out exhibition (apparently it’s Hayward’s most popular show yet), which successfully reminds us how light has the power to effect our state of mind just as much as how we perceive and respond to sights surrounding us.

The light show explores how 22 artists, ranging from the 1960s to the present day, use actual light as their medium, as well as the interplay of science, technology and industry using immersive environments, free-standing light sculptures and projections.

The Light Show explores the experiential and phenomenal aspects of light by bringing together atmospheric installations to intangible sculptures that you can move around. Each piece of art offers something different to the viewer, demonstrating different aspects of light such as colour, duration, intensity and projection, as well as perceptual phenomena to shape space in different ways.

Below are some of our favorite pieces:

Leo Villareal’s breath-taking ‘Cylinder II’ greets visitors to the Hayward Gallery. Simply a beautiful piece that anyone can appreciate purely on aesthetic levels, the bubbles of light travel up and down the cone, creating a mesmerising twinkle.

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Stepping into series of rooms dedicated to Carlos Cruz Diez confuses and tricks the brain, to the point that you begin the wonder which colour you are really seeing. The Blue Room felt almost cold and clinical, whilst the Red Room left us feeling warm and relaxed.


One of my personal favourite pieces was by Anthony McCall, entitled ‘You and I, Horizontal’. This exhibit referred to a “solid light installation” and, using subtle smoke effects, teases the viewer into thinking the beam of the projection is in fact a three-dimensional shape. You truly feel immersed.

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Another highlight was Conrad Shawcross’ ‘Slow Arc Inside a Cube IV’, ostensibly a giant mesh cage with a moving light inside that projects through its walls. This, in turn, distorts the space inside the room to an unnerving degree. It should come with a warning, “not designed for the claustrophobic”.


One of the last pieces you see is Olafur Eliasson’s transfixing ‘Model For A Timeless Garden’. Through the constant disruption of strobe lights you see water escape from a shelf in a series of shapes, arcs and fountains. Talk about saving the best until last!


– Kate Brown

Most pictures from the Telegraph, though photos don’t do justice to the experience.


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