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Thamesmead light festival returns in spectacular fashion

The Thamesmead Light Festival returns on Saturday 27 November, from 5-9pm featuring stunning light installations along a walking path from Lesnes Abbey, across Abbey Way, around Southmere Lake and finishing at the Lakeside Centre.

‘Light the Way’ presents a trail of mesmerising displays and is a collaboration between Peabody and Bexley Council’s Lesnes Abbey, delivered by outdoor arts specialist Emergency Exit Arts with funding from CLEVER Cities and the Heritage Lottery Fund.  

Local artists taking part include Miyuki Kasahara, who will be hosting a creative lantern-making workshop; Jackson Payne, whose audio-visual holograms will be dispersed amongst the trees and shrubbery by the lakeside; Nathalie Coste whose two installations include ‘Instafrost’, an illuminated sculpture made of willow and reclaimed parachutes, inspired by the damaging effects of climate breakdown on permafrost; and TUG, produced by local artists Debo Adegoke, Alex Tuckwood and Lisa Cheung, which will see floating sculptures pulled along by radio-controlled tug boats around Southmere Lake. 


Visitors can look forward to seeing ‘The Hourglass’, an impressive four-metre-high sculpture which aims to connect audiences with the idea that we are all ‘one world and one people’; and handcrafted, oversized roses that will line the entrance to Lesnes Abbey. 


It’s also a chance for people to get a first look at a small-scale test version of the Fields of EveryWhen hot air balloon created by M+R (Neil Musson and Jono Retallick). The artists are currently collating stories, memories and artwork from local residents as well as people with links to Thamesmead which will be interpreted into embroidery and printed onto a 23-metre-high hot air balloon and tethered in flight above Thamesmead next summer.  


Adriana Marques, Head of Cultural Strategy for Thamesmead at Peabody, said: “Our stunning light festival is a brilliant way of discovering Thamesmead’s unique landscapes illuminated by some incredible artworks. This year’s event leads audiences along a particularly special route, steeped in history with large scale installations alongside quieter moments in undiscovered places. 


“Thamesmead is bursting with creative talent and it’s always our priority to collaborate with and showcase local artists, so we’re thrilled to be working with several Thamesmead creatives who will be bringing their visions to life on the night. Produced by the ever brilliant Emergency Exit Arts, there is no event that better brings arts and nature together into a mesmerising experience for audiences near and far.” 


Matthew Norwell, Director of Place at London Borough of Bexley, said: “We are delighted to be able to be a part of this stunning light festival by hosting several illuminated installations at Lesnes Abbey Woods. The installations will shine on the ancient Abbey ruins and walking pathways, bringing an extra spark of magic to the historic setting. Make sure to wrap up warm and don’t miss the beautiful lights from Lesnes Abbey to Southmere Lake.” 


Daniel Bernstein, CEO of Emergency Exit Arts, said: “We are so thrilled to be presenting Light The Way in partnership with Peabody & Bexley Council. We've programmed an entire mile full of beautiful and engaging creative work and we can't wait to see how the public interacts with it. We started this exciting journey during lockdown over a year ago. There are so many highlights. We have commissioned a group of local artists to create new and site-specific artworks connecting Southmere Lake and Lesnes Abbey. We have also worked with Thor McIntyre (Aswarm) who has created Arbores Vocalis with local participation, which will be played along with Craig West's lighting design on the Abbey itself.  Light the Way will also feature the latest work from EEA including our brand-new light installation The Hourglass and our celebrated Recovery Poems, which have travelled all around the country to more than 15 events and festivals. We hope lots of people come out and enjoy this safe, beautiful one-mile walk and see Thamesmead and Lesnes Abbey in a new light.” 

In addition to the light installations there will be interactive workshops, storytelling and music, as well as food and hot drinks available from the Chestnuts Kiosk at Lesnes Abbey and The Y on the Lake, Thamesmead’s newest cafe at the Lakeside Centre. 

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