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Illuminated River: Four of London’s iconic bridges including Southwark lit-up in ‘world’s longest public art commission’

Four of the Thames’s most iconic bridges, including London and Southwark, have been lit-up as part of an ambitious new art commission to illuminate the river.

Artwork for the first four bridges – London, Southwark, Millennium and Cannon Street bridges – are expected to be seen more than sixty million times by Londoners and tourists every year.

Yesterday saw the bridges illuminated as the launch of the first phase of the Illuminated River project, the largest single planning application ever made without an Act of Parliament.

The artwork will be in place for about ten years, said its creators, while in contrast to previous illuminations, the lights will be switched off at 2am.

Hannah Rothschild, of the Illuminated River Foundation, said: “At night these extraordinary structures, each with a unique history and style, evanesce into darkness and obscurity.

“This project, one of the world’s longest and most ambitious cultural commissions, will transform a snake of darkness into a ribbon of light, threading art through the heart of the city.”

Southwark Bridge, pictured last night at the launch of Illuminated River’s first phase

Following collaboration and consultation with seven local authorities and a raft of organisations on the river, the illuminated river project will be the longest public art commission in the world, say its creators, at 2.5miles in length.

The foundation aims to complete phase two by autumn 2020, which will include Blackfriars Road, Waterloo, Golden Jubilee Footbridges, Westminster and Lambeth bridges.

“The Illuminated River will celebrate the unique architecture and heritage of our bridges, showcase creativity, boost life at night and transform the way we think about the Thames,” said Mayor Sadiq Khan.

Meanwhile, the artist of the LED-works, Leo Villareal, added: “I’m both delighted and humbled by the completion of this initial phase and I can’t wait for the public to experience the first four bridges.”


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