We’re busy gearing up for Light Night Leeds 2022 where we’ll be presenting the double holographic video installation ‘Voicing Silence’. In celebration of art in the dark, let us take you on a look back at the past few years of Light Night at the Galleries: 

Light Night Leeds is an annual free multi-arts and light festival that takes over Leeds City Centre for two nights in October. Starting in 2005, the event has grown year on year and in 2019 was enjoyed by some 150,000 visitors. In 2020 Light Night Leeds presented the hugely successful ‘Laser Light City’, and in 2021 the festival returned to a full programme with the theme of ‘Back to Nature’. At the Galleries we’ve been host to some fantastic artists and shown a whole range of artworks as part of the annual Light Night festival. 

The Remote Viewer: Windows on a Lost City 

Black and white photograph of a wall and buildings with a white translucent rectangle in the middle.
‘The Remote Viewer: Windows on a Lost City’ by Michael C Coldwell

For Light Night 2018 we presented two amazing works at the Galleries. The first was ‘The Remote Viewer: Windows on a Lost City’ by Michael C Coldwell, a video installation using images from Godfrey Bingley’s archive in Special Collections. 

The work explored the photograph as representation of loss through Godfrey Bingley’s idyllic views of Headingley before its rapid urbanisation and Leeds Corporation’s record of a condemned slum on Quarry Hill. Using techniques of re-photography and sound, ‘The Remote Viewer’ was a multi-sensory experience in which visitors were able to glimpse a city haunted by the past and become immersed in the urban transformation of Leeds. 

The Time-Travelling Circus: Electrolier Service 051018 

Black and white photograph of the inside of the Brotherton Library taken from behind a pillar
‘The Time-Travelling Circus: Electrolier Service 051018’ by Katrina Palmer.

Also in 2018, artist Katrina Palmer guided visitors to discover a story of death and what comes after in her site-specific audio performance ‘The Time-Travelling Circus: Electrolier Service 051018’. The work was inspired by the story of Susannah Darby, wife of famous equestrian and circus owner Pablo Fanque, who died in a circus accident and was buried in St George’s Field at the centre of the University campus. 

Visitors were led through the darkness of the Brotherton Library after-hours, surrounded by the sounds of the circus, the voice of Susannah, and the flickering spectacle of the attempts at revival. 

Fabrics of a Decorative Character: Collective Patterning 

People stood around a mesh frame weaving coloured fabric
Visitors taking part in ‘Collective Patterning’ by Isabella Carreras.

We welcomed visual artist Isabella Carreras in 2019 for a special Light Night workshop inspired by the International Textile Collection. In the unique after-hours experience visitors were invited to contribute to a collaborative made artwork exploring pattern and motifs.  

The workshop coincided with our exhibition ‘Fabrics of a Decorative Character’, showcasing some of the most exquisite and colourful items from the geographically diverse collections and how these incredible international textiles came to the University of Leeds. It also told the story of how the collection came about as an early teaching museum in the Yorkshire College over 120 years ago. 

The Eightfold Dot 

Projection of squares on the side of a building. To the left of the projection is a sculpture of twisted wire also on the building.
‘The Eightfold Dot’ by Melvin Moti.

Our addition to the Light Night 2021 programme was ‘The Eightfold Dot’, a silent, single-screen projection by Dutch artist Melvin Moti. The film was projected on the side of the new Sir William Henry Bragg Building, formally opened earlier this year, as part of the Inspired by Bragg cultural programme.

William Henry Bragg built the first x-ray spectrometer at the University of Leeds in 1913 with his son Lawrence, and they were jointly awarded the 1915 Nobel Prize in Physics. ‘The Eightfold Dot’ was commissioned by Leeds-based arts organisation Pavilion to coincide with the centenary of the discovery of X-ray crystallography in Leeds. 

The work showed a turning and transforming crystalline form in a meditative and mesmeric depiction of space and anti-space, atomic and cosmic forms, and the search for a fourth dimension – a concept that has enthralled writers, artists, theosophists and mathematicians alike. 

Voicing Silence 

A person in a pink top with arms outstretched surrounded by butterflies against a black background.
‘Voicing Silence’ by Lou Chapelle.

And finally, for Light Night Leeds 2022 we’re presenting ‘Voicing Silence’, a holographic video piece that responds to today’s global extinction crisis and what this means on a human level. 

Created collaboratively with artists and Global Majority groups, Voicing Silence questions how we emotionally deal with the ever-growing destruction of animal and plants species, peoples, habitats, ecosystems: How do we resist this loss of diversity, languages, cultures, traditions, ways of life? How do we care for and celebrate what we still have? 

The work was designed and created by artist Lou Chapelle, commissioned by the School of Philosophy, Religion and History of Science at the University of Leeds and funded by the Arts and Humanity Research Council (AHRC)

Be sure to come along to the Parkinson Building on the evening of Thursday 13 or Friday 14 October to experience ‘Voicing Silence’ for yourself. Find out more

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