How brilliant was Light Night!
Well, Light Night’s over for another year and man, was it great! Now this could be a long post, so grab a cup of tea and a Hob Nob and make yourself comfy.
First of all, kudos to the amazing work put in by Charlotte and Christina from Open Culture and to all of the organisations, big and small, that put on such a vast array of events. I could ponder on it til I’m an old woman in a rocking chair surrounded by cats and never understand the sheer effort that went into it all. From live taxidermy, a candle lit labyrinth and Rolf Harris at the Walker Art Gallery, there really was something for everyone.
I set off early on Friday with John, Ray, Ray’s wife Pauline and my mate Vickie on the Light Night trail we’d thrown together. We started off by attending the Choral Evensong at the Anglican cathedral, which was led by my (less-of-the) old friend, Canon Myles Davies. It was great to see this wonderful building packed with people, and the choir, with Ian Tracey on the organ, did a magnificent job of raising the roof on its gorgeous, vaulted ceiling.
From there, we headed in a light drizzle to The Factory on Parliament Street, the home of Arena Studios & Gallery, where a whole host of stuff was laid on. Following a yarn trail through the streets, we were welcomed by studio manager, Pam, and amazingly, an other-worldly looking ‘Andy Warhol’.
The silver foil-lined gallery was set up so that you could make your own art for a piffling £2 donation and we set about it with a passion. I made what I consider a tribute to Terry Gilliam, which I’ve called ‘Welease Woderwick’ and John made a piece that I think was called ‘Naff Spanish donkey with Butterfly’. I saw one woman making art out of a toilet brush, some roses and a bunch of plastic flies.
We went down to the Elavator Bar, where the tables were adorned with paper and felt tips, which we set about decorating with a vengeance over a nice, stiff drinky while a band played and people made pin-wheels. If you’ve never been to this little oasis of loveliness and, you really should.
From The Factory, we headed to Camp & Furnace, neatly dodging a marauding horde of zombies doing 2.8 Days Later round the streets of the Baltic triangle. You could feel the place really coming to life. Camp & Furnace had put on an Adult Youth Club – an ode to early 90s club culture. With Step On playing in the background, we played a game of hat scrabble. Ray had jugz, which would be worth 21 points if it was in any way legal (it isn’t).
We’d planned to go to the Metropolitan cathedral for the candle lit labyrinth when were hit by the kind of downpour I’ve only encountered before during a tropical storm in Florida. We took shelter at a vintage sale at The Black-E before detouring to watch Brazilica Festival’s street samba in St Peter’s Square.
Oblivious to the torrential rain, the performers and audience alike gave it their all. The women of Brazilica Festival had obviously been transported in specially from the Planet of Superbly Pert Bottoms and caused such excitement among the men in the crowd that I saw one guy actually throw off his crutches to shimmy over to the girls in his waterproofs.
From there we waded through rain on a biblical scale to the Late Night Ceildh at St George’s Hall. We were so soaked, we headed to the bar for a warming snifter while a bunch of sprightly Morris Dancers took to the floor. Now call me soft, but I can’t watch Morris Dancers without thinking of the final scenes of The Wicker Man, so we put our wet coats back on and fled!
As we were leaving, my mate Colin messaged me to say what a great time he’d had seeing Rolf Harris at The Walker Art Gallery. If, like us, you missed it, his Can you tell what it is yet? exhibition is on until 12 August.
We ended the night with a quick gander at The Academy of Arts on Seel Street where a live band was celebrating the Light Night after party followed by a nightcap at The Attic, Parr Street Studios.
Of course, Light Night is just one night a year, but the places that hosted events are there all year round, so make a note in your diary to go a visit one. Like my mate Colin, you’ll be really glad you did.