Lumiere London at The Skip Garden


Lumiere London made its return to King’s Cross this January which was the perfect opportunity to get together and craft something special for the festival and open up and show off the garden for a few evenings. Lumiere is a festival of light across the city and this year had installations on Southbank and Westminster as well as King’s Cross. When we last participated the then King’s Cross Pond was illuminated by a diver. This year we decided to make our own installation and turn the glasshouse into an aquarium filled with willowy creatures of the sea.

‘The secret sea’ was inspired by our colleagues’ recent work making willow lanterns, including a beautiful firebird, for the winter solstice procession at the Paper Garden in Canada Water at the end of last year. There has also been a recent upsurge in public attention drawn to the plight of marine ecosystems around the globe with particular attention to plastic pollution and its devastating effects on marine life.


With the band wagon going in a good direction, it seemed silly not to jump on both feet first. Using natural and recycled materials we took to shaping willow and paper into beautiful ocean dwellers and displayed them in the glasshouse lantern, a building made from scaffolds and reclaimed windows that sits atop a ‘ Trans Ocean’ shipping container (befitting for the occasion).


Across three days thousands of people came through the garden, some familiar with the space others here for the first time. All full of praise and wonder at what had been created. Not just The secret sea but the garden as a whole: the skips with their sprouting brassicas and wormerry, the full salad trays lining the polytunnel, the living wall and giant bug hotel. All examples of how we can create spaces that include and nourish nature even in N1C.