Calm and colour to illuminate Leeds Dock waterfront as part of city's Light Night celebrations

A new installation at this year’s Light Night Leeds will see hundreds of origami boats and flower lanterns take to the canal at Leeds Dock in a sea of colour and light.

Reflections on the Water and Voyage is a collaboration with the city’s Buddhist community and the British Library - which has a major site at Boston Spa near Wetherby.

It will be at Leeds Dock on Thursday, October 10, and Friday, October 11, from 6.30pm to 11pm.

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Jamie Andrews, head of culture and learning at the British Library, said: “This is the first time we’ve had a presence at Light Night Leeds. 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.”

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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.

Jamyang Buddhist Centre in Holbeck follow the Tibetan Buddhist tradition and have 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 practice generosity, to let go and to enjoy giving. Light Night visitors can join them in a light offering on Friday evening only. (Oct 11)

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Alongside Reflections on the Water is Voyage - a large-scale interactive installation by artists Aeither & Hermera. - that 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 added: “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. 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 October 9, 2019 to January 12, 2020.

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

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