An outdoor illuminated art gallery is set to take over Liverpool’s world-famous waterfront.
For 14 nights (Tuesday 23 March to Monday 5 April) the city’s residents can experience the River of Light Trail, which will showcase the work of leading local, national and international artists.
Partners across Liverpool have come together to stage the spectacle which residents can experience with covid-safe measures in place across the 2km walking loop.
Bringing together 11 stunning audio and visual installations, the trail will open hours after the city stages a special online event reflecting on the impact a year of lockdown has had on Liverpool and its communities.
The first artworks being announced are:
Rainbow Bridge – In a major coup for the city, a 30.5-metre-long, 9-metre-high rainbow will be showcased for the first time outside of America. Made up of more than 25,000 programmable LEDs which will convey special visuals and messaging, it is presented in partnership with National Museums Liverpool and will be located in Canning Dock Quayside, next to Royal Albert Dock.
All in the Balance – Located outside the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Building at the Royal Liverpool Albert Dock, Liverpool’s own The Lantern Company will create an illuminated kinetic artwork of a gigantic butterfly mobile surrounded by wild grasses and flowers. It’s a celebration of nature and the arrival of spring.
Light A Wish – Twenty illuminated, two-metre-high dandelions will float over the canal on the Pier Head as a symbol of the desires and dreams we wish for. As part of this, an engagement programme co-ordinated by The Guide Liverpool will ask people to share their wishes for the future.
Neighborhood – Castle Street will become a temporary home to a washing line, on which hangs illuminated laundry. The clothing represents communities from across the city and celebrates people of different backgrounds living together harmoniously. Open Eye Gallery will run a photography project alongside this which will engage participants in response to the artwork to form part of an online exhibition.
The River of Light Trail is being delivered by Culture Liverpool with support from Arts Council England, FESTIVAL.ORG, Global Streets, National Museums Liverpool, Liverpool BID Company, Liverpool ONE and Royal Albert Dock.
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The team delivering the trail has been working closely with Public Health Liverpool and members of the Safety Advisory Group, to ensure it is as Covid-safe as possible.
It has been designed with safety and distancing in mind – the 2km trail and distance between each artwork ensures social distancing can be observed.
Visitors will be encouraged to wear face coverings at all times, signage will give advice on how to stay safe and staff will be on hand to remind people of the guidelines.
A limited number of sanitising stations will be available, but people are advised to bring their own hand gel.
In line with the Government guidelines, from 23-28 March people should only visit if they are local to the waterfront and must only socialise with their household or one person from another household for recreation or exercise.
From Monday 29 March, the rule of six or two households mixing outdoors will apply. Organisers are advising people to get tested before their trail visit, and details of the nearest no-symptoms test centre can be found here.
Anyone experiencing symptoms of Covid-19 should not visit the trail.
Liverpool’s Acting Mayor, Councillor Wendy Simon, said: “Launching the River of Light Trail a year to the day lockdown in England began is a symbolic invitation to Liverpool residents to start slowly and safely rediscovering the city once again, and points to brighter times ahead..
There is a real focus on looking ahead to brighter times, and for the River of Light Trail to safely launch a year to the day lockdown in England began is a real statement that we want Liverpool residents to start to slowly and safely discover the city once again.
“It has been more than six months in the planning, and the team has had to think carefully about every aspect– achieving that balance of it being artistically, visually stunning and Covid-safe.
“The driving force is to bring joy and light to residents in what has been a dark year for all of us. This outdoor art gallery will be fun, engaging, ambitious and thought-provoking and will hopefully give visitors a sense of normality in a year that has been anything but normal.
“We are known the world over for the pedigree of our outdoor culture – and by staging this collection we hope to send out the message that despite the challenges of Covid-19, we are far from beaten, and will come back stronger and brighter.”
Director of National Museums Liverpool, Laura Pye said: “We’re thrilled to be working with Culture Liverpool in bringing Rainbow Bridge to Liverpool’s waterfront as part of the River of Light Trail. I think we all need a bit of hope and light in our lives at the moment, and the waterfront is offering the perfect opportunity for local residents to escape the current situation; outdoors, with fresh air, plenty of space and a huge, beautiful rainbow of hope.
“As we embark on our Waterfront Transformation Project – of which the Canning Dock Quaysides are an integral part – we’re really looking forward to seeing people enjoying the area again as Rainbow Bridge takes centre stage”.
Bradley Hemmings, Artistic Director of FESTIVAL.ORG, (the organisation which co-ordinates Global Streets), said: “Culture Liverpool’s leadership in presenting an international outdoor arts programme at River of Light is hugely inspiring.
“Sergey Kim’s Neighbourhood and OGE Group’s Light A Wish convey timely ideas about community and hope, which are vital to our national recovery from the pandemic.
“Public safety is of course always the primary concern of us all, and it has been incredibly heartening to see the incredible resourcefulness that has gone into adapting plans to ensure that these beautiful installations can be safely enjoyed.”
Jo Pocock, Artistic Director of Lantern Company said: “With 2021 as an ecological tipping point, our actions and those of our government’s in the coming months and years are set to determine the future of life on our planet. Declaring a climate emergency, and greening urban space is just the first step. “Like many creative organisations, this is the first live event Lantern Company have been part of in many months and we are committed to working in sustainable ways, re-thinking practices and ensuring change will happen. Our installation ‘All in the Balance’ re-uses elements from previous artworks and is 100 per cent recycled.”