Artist behind Thames illuminations hopes they will be part of London ‘celebration’

Westminster Bridge is illuminated as part of the art installation, the Illuminated River project

The artist behind a public display of illuminations along the River Thames has said he hopes they will become part of a “celebration” of a return to normal life in London.

Leo Villareal has designed illuminations for the Illuminated River project.

Blackfriars Bridge, Waterloo Bridge, Golden Jubilee Footbridge, Westminster Bridge and Lambeth Bridge will become the latest landmarks to be lit up as part of the project, which began in 2019.

Villareal told said it is “really thrilling” to be showing his work in a public space, adding: “What’s interesting to me is as much as I love galleries and museums, I think getting art out into the world is incredibly important.

“It sort of gives people who don’t necessarily go to galleries or museums a chance to interact with the work.”

Villareal’s designs will see Lambeth Bridge lit up in red, while Westminster Bridge will be green.

The illuminations will remain in place for at least 10 years.

“The illumination has a kind of a slowness to it, an elegance to it, so in a way it’s very meditative and calming,” the US artist said.

“Some people, if they are rushing by, might not even notice that the light is changing, but those that take a bit of a longer moment to look at it will see that it is indeed moving and there’s kind of a sequence to it.”

He said the designs “brings (the bridges) out of the darkness at night”.

“It shows all the detail and every rivet and all the things that are unique about them suddenly become apparent, so I’m hoping that’s what people will see when they take a look at the bridges.”

He added: “It’s exciting to be revealing the project at a time when London and the UK is opening up again, so I hope it’s part of that celebration of some optimism for the future.”

The first bridges were lit up as part of the Illuminated River project in 2019.

The lights were switched on at the five new bridges on Tuesday evening. To find out more about the bridges and for maps and resources, click here.