Artful Excursions – Light Show

We’ve just returned from our first ever family trip to London – just for a few days (which of course is nowhere near long enough), and a very damp, snowy and cold few days it was, but a great experience none the less, given that we were indoors for most of the time anyway.

We managed to pack quite a lot in including a ride on the London Eye (see above), a visit to the Natural History Museum, a visit to the Museum of London, a visit to the Greenwich Observatory (Daddy’s treat) and a visit to see the Light Show exhibition at the Hayward Gallery (Mummy’s Treat) which came highly recommended and which I thought I’d share with you here.

After a disastrous visit to a contemporary art gallery last summer with the boys, (thankfully an experience not repeated on our visits to other exhibitions since) I was a little bit worried about the visit – especially on being informed by a very stern security guard as he took our tickets, that there should be ‘NO running, NO touching, and NO photography’. While the former should generally go without saying, the last was a little disappointing, and means that I have had to use my powers of verbal description alone to illustrate most of this post.

However, I needn’t have worried – the boys were pretty well-behaved, and enjoyed the exhibition which had lots of opportunities for interactivity, allowing them to ‘play’ with and explore light. In order of viewing, I think the boys top 3 most popular exhibits were:

You & I,Horizontal (2005) by Anthony McCall

This was a darkened room filled with a light haze of mist, with a single beam of light projected across it. This had the effect of making the beam of light itself visible and seem almost solid, so the boys (and quite a few adults too I noticed) had lots of fun sticking their heads up through it, crawling underneath, and walking within the beam of light, creating dramatic silhouettes and shapes against it.

Chromosaturation (1965-2013) by Carlos Cruz-Diez

This was a space containing 3 different pure colour environments, so that everything was bathed in red, blue or green light depending on where you stood. It was a great place to discuss the effect of light and colour, both psychologically (my youngest told me he felt ‘hot’ in the red environment for example) and visually (they also noticed the effect each environment had on the colours we were wearing, so that my elder son’s red coat appeared brown in the red environment and mauve in the blue). Standing in the areas where the colours transitioned created yet more effects.

Model for a Timeless Garden (2011) by Olafur Eliasson

The final favourite was an installation in a darkened room, created by using fountains and strobe lighting. The effect of the lighting was to freeze the movement of the fountains and turn them into glittering crystal sculptures, beautifully lit. My boys were fascinated by the strobe lighting which they’d never experienced before, and I was fetched especially to be shown how it made you look as if you were ‘in a film’. They loved exploring how their own bodies and movement appeared in the light, as well as the fountains.

All in all this exhibition visit was a success, – we had a great time, and I have come to the conclusion that it’s fine to visit galleries like this with young kids – especially when the exhibition is as potentially interactive as this one was. I think the skill lies in picking the right exhibition!

The show continues at the Hayward Gallery until 28th April – and children under 12 can visit free of charge out of school hours.


So, in the absence of being able to show you any photographs of the exhibition, I leave you with a photograph of a piece of street art I came across instead….


London Street Art


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