Light Show at The Hayward Gallery

Yesterday I told you all about the Lichtenstein exhibition at the Tate Modern. After visiting this, and feeling a little uninspired, I made the short trip down South Bank to the Hayward Gallery to visit Light Show.
This is the exhibition I was really excited about. Light is my absolute favourite medium, and has been for years, although I didn't realise it until the time I spent 50 minutes in a dark room watching Jenny Holzer's Blue Purple Tilt. Suddenly it hit me that the work I respond to the best is light-based, and my favourite studies have always been those that concentrate on the relationship between light and shade.

So I was expecting this exhibition to be pretty amazing. Nothing could have prepared me for just how incredible it was. I actually wrote the notes for this post curled up in the corner of an installation room, flooded in pink light. There was inspiration at every angle. I couldn't avoid it.

The most apparent thing was how many children there were. And I mean, really young children. Newborns and toddlers in abundance. Normally, I find this a little irritating. Children who are old enough to understand, say 6 years and up, I'm fine with but babies in art galleries tend to cry and whinge. Yet in this exhibition, they were smiling and giggling. It was incredibly child-friendly. In fact, the exhibits brought out a childlike enthusiasm in everyone. Most are interactive- You can dance in the light, manipulate the environment, immerse yourself in installations- and even adults were laughing with delight.

I could talk about this for hours, but I'll just mention my two favourite exhibits: Wedgework V by James Turrell and Chromosaturation by Carlos Cruz-Diez.

When I saw a queue forming to get into the Wedgework V installation room, I joined it without hesitation. I like every work to be a surprise, so I don't read the exhibition guides in advance, and I had no idea what I was waiting for. After five minutes or so, we were directed into a pitch black corridor. It was so dark that we were told to keep our right hand on the wall so that we could follow the route. The corridor led to a room where we were assigned places to sit opposite what appeared to be a large red screen, like a cinema screen but flooded with light. At first, everybody was hushed but, as people grew impatient for something to happen, the noise level grew. Eventually people started getting up and leaving, with only 6 or so of us remaining. At this point, we shuffled forwards curiously, and noticed a little boy put his hand through the screen, which led us all to tentatively see if we could do the same. Eventually, children were daring each other to put their whole heads into the space and a childlike urge to run across the area took hold, at which point I thought it was best to leave! It was a very clever piece, and definitely rewarding for those of us who stayed behind and discovered hidden secrets.

Chromosaturation was immediately intriguing, because we had to take our shoes off before entering the room. Stepping onto the pristine white floor was a surreal experience. It was very smooth, slightly springy and slippery. The installation was made up of three completely empty rooms, made of white walls, ceiling and floor but flooded with a different colour in each: Green, blue and pink. It was a strange sensation to feel my socked (well, tighted) feet on the floor, as it was such an informal intimacy, yet with complete strangers. For something so simple, it brought out delight in everyone. Children rolled around on the floor, shouting "It's pink, Mummy!" and running around the rooms. I settled into a corner of the pink room, and soon other people began sitting around me. Eventually, my eyes accustomed to the unusual saturation, and it began to feel very warm and protective, almost womb-like. I'm not sure how long I sat in there for, but it was certainly quite a while, and I found it an incredibly inspirational place. 

After the exhibition, I headed upstairs to the project space and discovered the Waterloo Sunset Pavilion, a glass-walled seating area with art books piled up on every surface. It was a lovely place to have a rest! 

Unfortunately, this exhibition is only showing for another couple of weeks. If you get a chance to see it, please do. It is the best exhibition I have ever been to, and I would go again if I had the time! 


  1. This looks like an amazing experience. Your so cultured!

    Day Dreams & Daisy Chains

  2. It sounds amazing just reading about it, so I'm sure it would just be incredible in person!
    xoxo Aimee

  3. Thanks for sharing about this, I live not too far away so I'll definitely give it a visit!

    Really love your blog


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