Illuminating York; Illuminati Botanica at York Museum Gardens

Wednesday 28th October - Saturday 31st October 2015.

Presented by Trophic Cascade with works by John Easterby, Ulf Pederson & Mark Anderson.

"It's night time in the garden but not as you know it! The birds are wide awake and the plants are dancing. Explore the botanical Museum Gardens as you have never seen them before. Wander the paths and be enchanted by a feast for the senses as sound and light flash and dance around you in a celebration of the natural world. These artist's works, using light and sound, transform Museum Gardens providing an unforgettable journey of delights."

This was the description on the Illuminating York programme and it was a unique experience that brought nature together with beautiful man-made light installations. First greeted by a gold-lit tree trunk, as you got closer and glanced upwards you realised that there were green lights in the branches that flash in time to the sound of woodpeckers. It was slightly alarming at first but you were immediately transported into this world of light and sound that conjures recognisable elements of nature.

Moving on to a dark woodland path, sounds resembled the drip dropping of water in a cave (fitting, seeing as it had just stopped raining). This was accompanied by a light display on large flat discs that were dispersed amongst the trees that gave the effect of rippling water. I chatted to a member of the public who said they found this particular piece playful and amusing, it certainly was my favourite. The light-hearted nature of the Illuminati Botanica was balanced by an eerie atmosphere due to the dark misty night sky. I think Illuminating York is so effective because of its rich history, pairing this with contemporary light displays is magical.

Continuing on through the gardens and out of the woods there were 'birds' in the trees and mechanical multicoloured Catherine-wheel flowers. These could make anyone feel like a kid again. You are drawn in by their vibrant colours and excited by the fact that they a spinning so fast! The event also featured lights that looked like floating embers of a fire (good timing for bonfire night next week), although a member of the public mentioned that they thought the movement of the small lights resembled the motion of a fishing rod. It was wonderful to hear people talking about the installations and comparing their interpretations. This truly is art made to be enjoyed by everyone.

A really lovely and interesting experience, with friendly stewards and wonderfully clever displays of light and sound. I would highly recommend that if you did not have the chance to go this year, do so next year! Illuminating York has a range of events and display across town, both free and ticketed. Look out for it next year!

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