Under the spotlight

The boy band Westlife last week flicked the switch to turn on the Christmas lights on London’s Oxford Street, and while this year’s lights (by Blachere Illumination) may be an improvement on last year’s damp squib, for real excitement you might want to look elsewhere. For instance, London Lights, an exhibition opening at the Building Centre in Bloomsbury next week, which unashamedly takes the work of its neighbours, design consultancy Imagination, as its inspiration. The show was partly born of protest at the Christmas lighting on Regent Street and Oxford Street, says curator Peter Murray. It includes a proposal for Oxford Street by Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands and chronicles 25 years of Imagination’s Christmas lighting to show what could be done. While festively timed, the exhibition looks at the gamut of illuminated buildings, from Speirs & Major’s work on Croydon’s high rises, to the seminal – and initially temporary – blue haze that Imagination threw around the Lloyds Building. Interactive black boxes, plasma screens and photography document the move from spot lighting to public theatre, that is so dramatically changing our night-time environment. As Murray says, ‘Lighting is like fireworks. Everyone used to do it once a year, but now people have the inclination and the technical wherewithal to do it all year round.’ Let’s hope the Oxford Street Association get a chance to pop by.

London Lights runs from 30 November to 21 January at New London Architecture, The Building Centre, 26 Store Street, London WC1

By John Stones

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