Glowing Leeds exhibit sets benchmark for tolerance

GLOWING ADDITION: Benches like these in Germany are coming to Leeds city centre.
GLOWING ADDITION: Benches like these in Germany are coming to Leeds city centre.
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Colourful illuminated benches will help bring people together to experience this year’s stunning Light Night Leeds.

The beautiful light benches will be installed in Victoria Gardens ahead of next week’s annual arts showpiece, giving visitors a unique new place to get to know each other on October 5 and 6.

Created by German artists Lichtbankobkkte with the aim of breaking down social awkwardness, the light benches are made using glass light beams connected by WiFi and change colour every two and a half minutes.

Artist Bernd Spiecker said: “I took the traditional park bench that has been part of our history for so long and reinterpreted it for the 21st century. The emotional interaction of light and colour opens up a new perception of the object to the viewer and those that sit on them.

“I had a vision to let 100 light benches wander around the world and to install them at famous places so that people from every nation, religion and culture can have a seat and get the opportunity to communicate with each other. Everywhere they have been installed, people have gathered, taken photos and enjoyed each other’s company, whether a friend or a stranger. When sitting on them there is a sense of familiarity and also the knowledge that we are all one.”

Following Light Night Leeds, the five benches will become a permanent fixture in Leeds, the only ones of their kind in the UK outside London and a lasting legacy for the event as Leeds bids to be European Capital of Culture in 2023. Bernd added: “I am excited that my benches will be on show permanently and will grow to be a regular sight with the public all year round, each year for Light Night and as Leeds goes forward with its bid for 2023.”

Light Night Leeds will see more than 60 events lighting up prominent city centre landmarks.