Light Night, Leeds Dock and Hundreds of Boats and Lanterns

Leeds Dock will be bathed in colour and light with a new installation for this year’s Light Night, when flower lanterns and origami boats set sail on the canal.

First-timers at Light Night, The British Library, based at Boston Spa, is collaborating with two of Leeds’ buddhist communities to produce Reflections on the Water and Voyage, in their response to this year’s theme of ‘Mind, Body and Spirit’.

Loi Krathong is an annual Thai festival where flower lanterns are decorated, lit with candles and floated on water. The British Library has worked closely with Headingley’s Thai Buddhist group Wat Buddharam to bring the festival to the City Centre.  As part of a workshop organised by Wat Buddharam, Light Night visitors are invited to make and float flower lanterns on the canal and learn about the festival’s history.

Jamyang Buddhist Centre in Holbeck follows the Tibetan Buddhist tradition and has provided meditation, mindfulness and Buddhist classes in Leeds for over 20 years.  In the Tibetan Buddhist faith, light offerings are symbolic of removing destructive emotions and letting the light of positive and constructive emotions shine.  They are also a way to practise generosity, to let go and to enjoy giving. Light Night visitors can join them in a light offering on Friday evening only.

Alongside Reflections on the Water is Voyage, a large-scale interactive installation by artists Aeither & Hermera, which consists of hundreds of floating origami boats encasing coloured dynamic LED lights. The boats can be controlled by smartphones and visitors are invited to interact, choose colours and turn the canal into a canvas.

Jamie Andrews, Head of Culture & Learning at the British Library:  “We are committed to growing our presence in Leeds, building on our 50+ year presence at our site in Boston Spa, and to developing cultural partnerships in the run up to 2023.   Voyage encourages us to take a reflective moment of stillness among the bustling City which we felt was beautifully fitting to the overall theme of Light Night,” continues Jamie. “The theme of Mind, Body and Spirit really appealed to us; libraries today are wonderfully vibrant places, but they also offer space for reflection and quiet learning and are open to everyone.”

The British Library’s other major site in London is preparing to host an exhibition on Buddhism this Autumn and in parallel with the installation, the Library is lending one of its rare Burmese Buddhist manuscripts to the Royal Armouries.

The manuscript will be on loan to the Royal Armouries in the Oriental Gallery from 9th October 2019 – 12th January 2020.

It’s wonderful to further our relationships and connections in Leeds, including with our friends and partners at Royal Armouries,” Jamie concludes.   “We look forward to welcoming visitors to the waterfront for an evening of calm and colour.”

Reflections on the Water and Voyage are at Leeds Dock on Thursday October 10th and Friday October 11th from 6.30pm to 11pm.   NOTE:  Jamyang are present on Friday October 11th only.

There’s information on all the Light Night events here.

Photography by Philip Vile.



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