A Little Slice of Light Night

The annual Light Night returned to Leeds last Friday, featuring late-night openings of galleries, museums, theatres, shopping centres and unusual spaces. Starting just as it went dark at 6pm, the race was on to experience as much of the five hours of jam-packed culture as possible.

HOARD, Corn Exchange

Hoard are a collective of artists who use found objects in their work, such as discarded props, lost trinkets or objects from nature.

Using the supporting archways of the beautiful Corn Exchange basement as their backdrop, the installations added another dose of charm to the Grade I-listed Victorian building. It was like walking around a circular hive of artistic activity.

I particularly enjoyed the works of Teresa Wilson and Bess Martin. Teresa’s installation featured motionless puppets sitting on tiny chairs, arranged as if one was walking unannounced into a drama frozen in time. Bess’s work featured a range of objects that she found under her bed, sorted by colour into a fascinating rainbow of found items.

SUBCULTURE, Holy Trinity Church

Holy Trinity Church is also an arts centre, which has hosted a range of events including gigs, experimental noise choirs and stand-up comedy. This event required the temporary removal of some of the wooden pews, as the space was given over to an immersive surround-sound installation.

Somehow, sound artist Philip Watts had harnessed the movement of microscopic organisms to trigger a range of samples recorded around Leeds city centre and under the sea, and generate strange, synthesized sounds. Accompanying this were projections of the bacteria themselves moving and dancing around to their own music, enlarged to a giant form.

AUDIO SURF, Queens Hotel

A giant puzzle racing game projected onto the side of the Queens Hotel. A soundtrack of Beyonce and Kate Bush only added to the mystery as I tried to work out what was happening. It was quite entertaining to watch, but sadly I didn’t manage to have a turn as I was late for the next event…

WHALE SONG, River Aire

An amazing spectacle of water and projections created an almost tangible ‘virtual whale’ – it was astonishing. Sophisticated pumps fanned out the river water a fine mist, acting like a sheet, allowing video of a whale diving and swimming through the ocean to be beamed across the water. The effect was mesmerising and, although I needed a ticket to get in, it was well worth waiting to get one.


The 17th-century Grade I-listed Anglican Church in the centre of Leeds was the perfect venue to experience a gripping ghostly tale about a lost treasure trove of spooky stories. Read by Adam Robinson, and accompanied by Ben Styles on violin and effects, there was a sensation of time beginning to wind back to a darker, dirtier Leeds of not so long ago.

PROMETHEUS, Upstairs @ Carriageworks

A series of triangles illuminated and dimmed, creating patterns on a screen. As they did so, strange and ethereal chords shadowed the movement of the light, bringing together music and patterns. I particularly enjoyed how the music seemed to accurately capture what a spiral might ‘sound’ like. It was inspired by the story of Prometheus, a figure from Ancient Greek mythology said to have given humans the power of fire.


77 handmade bowls were imprinted with the chemicals involved in the production of acid rain and filled with water. Above them, 77 crystals hung suspended in on fine string, scattering light like prisms around the room. It sought to make visible the issue of climate change, and coupled with the sounds of a thunderstorm, it made it a pleasurable immersive experience too.

This list is by no means exhaustive, and that is the beauty of Light Night. Whatever corner of the city you’re hanging about in, or if you’re traversing across districts, Light Night always offers a multitude of experiences for everyone and anyone. Guaranteed they’ll be luminescent!

Originally published by Leeds Living.

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