One hundred years ago Sir Edward Grey, Foreign Secretary stated to his friend and journalist John Alfred Spender, editor of the Westminster Gazette “the lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our life-time.” It was dusk as he was watched the first of the gas lights along the Mall were being lit. The next day Grey would face the Cabinet and persuade them that the time had now come to declare war on Germany.
From what had been a European war, when Britain declared war on Germany it turned the balance of power in the Balkans into the first global war. In a little more than four years, 888,246 combatants would lose their lives, and over 28 million people would be recorded as wounded or missing in action.
ArtAngel spectra: London’s centenary beam of light spectra is an artwork by Ryojl Ikeda which has previously been displayed at The Flag Island, Sharjah, AE, Amsterdam, Paris, Barcelona, Nagoya and Buenos Aires.
Spectra in London is being used to mark a moment of national commemoration of the centenary of when Britain declared war on Germany for invading Belgium. spectra was first turned on as part of a bigger piece of National activity for 14-18 NOW LIGHTS OUT on 4 August and will remain light until first light on 11 August. If you wish to go and see spectra then head to Victoria Tower Gardens from dusk till dawn.
The art installation consists of 49 high powered searchlights arranged in a grid projecting thousands of metres upward into the sky.. There are huge speakers used to play atmospheric noises composed also by Ryojl Ikeda. Visitors can walk through the lights at ground level, looking up at the clouds and at, in my case, a helicopter (see pic below).
You can hear about London in the blackout in our London history podcast.
Hazel Baker is a qualified CIGA Tour Guide who delivers guided walks and private tours in London. View all of Hazel’s walking tours.