Arts festival marks 350th anniversary of Great Fire

London 1666, Work In Progress, designed by David Best in collaboration with Artichoke Credit: Oliver Rudkin

London’s Burning, a series of spectacular art events, will mark the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire from 30 August to 4 September 2016.

London 1666, Work In Progress, designed by David Best in collaboration with Artichoke Credit: Oliver Rudkin
London 1666, Work In Progress, designed by David Best in collaboration with Artichoke Credit: Oliver Rudkin

London’s Burning is set to bring the Square Mile and beyond to life with a series of art installations, performances and talks to offer a unique perspective on the significance of the Great Fire of London in the country’s history to mark the 350th anniversary of the blaze this September.

Taking place in landmark locations across the city from 30 August to 4 September even will include an underwater performance-artwork at Broadgate, a domino-like sculpture that snakes through the city’s streets tracing the multiple paths of the fire and a spectacular riverside finale all produced by Artichoke, one of the UK’s most pioneering creative companies.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “The Great Fire of London was one of the most important moments in the history of the capital. The range of fantastic events taking place around its 350th anniversary shows once again that London is open to visitors from around the world.”

Mark Boleat, the City of London Corporation’s policy chairman, added: “Helen Marriage and her team at Artichoke have worked tirelessly with a wide range of organisations and leading artists to put together a spectacular and ambitious programme of events to commemorate the 1666 Great Fire of London. As the founding sponsors of London’s Burning, the City of London Corporation has been very proud to be involved in this major project that will remember how the Fire claimed lives and devastated the City of London, but also celebrate how it rose triumphantly from the ashes.”

London’s Burning  is part of Great Fire 350, a city-wide season of cultural events marking the anniversary.

Of All The People In All The World Stan's Cafe
Of All The People In All The World, Stan’s Cafe

Of All The People In All The World, Stan’s Cafe, Inner Temple

From the handful of recorded deaths to the tens of thousands made homeless in 1666, Of All The People In All The World by Stan’s Cafe will count the cost of the fire in grains of rice comparing historical facts with contemporary moments. Located in the Inner Temple and watched over by the stern portraits of four of the fire kudges appointed by the king to adjudicate on compensation claims after the blaze, this installation offers a remarkably compelling way to experience the impact of these dramatic events.

Inner Temple, Tuesday 30 August to Sunday 4 September, free.

Holoscenes, Early Morning Opera, Miami Credit: Lars Jan
Holoscenes, Early Morning Opera, Miami Credit: Lars Jan

Holoscenes, Early Morning Opera, Broadgate

In Broadgate, catastrophe will be given a more urgent theme with the UK Premiere of Holoscenes, a mesmerising six-hour underwater performance- installation by US-based Early Morning Opera. Featuring individual performers going about mundane daily tasks as water levels rise around them.

Broadgate, Thursday 1 to Sunday 4 September, free, see website for further details.

Dominoes, Station House Opera, City of London

Dominoes by Station House Opera is an extraordinary kinetic sculpture. First commissioned by CreateLondon in 2009, Dominoes has since travelled worldwide. This new version, specially created for London Burning by artistic director Julian Maynard-Smith, will be its most ambitious yet, involving 600 volunteers, 26,000 breeze blocks and a 7km run through the city, tracing the path of the fire through its streets, buildings and public spaces, linking the past with the present in a symbolic and physical chain of cause and effect.

City of London, Saturday 3  September, free, see website for further details.

London 1666, David Best and Artichoke, River Thames

This spectacular finale will see an extraordinary 120-metre long sculpture of Restoration London floated onto the River Thames and set alight in a dramatic retelling of the story of the Great Fire. The vast representation of the 17th-century London skyline has been designed by American artist David Best, working in collaboration with Artichoke.

River Thames, Sunday 4 September, see website for further details.

Fire Food Market, Guildhall Yard

Running alongside the festival, over the weekend Saturday 3 and Sunday 4 September, Real Food Festivals will present a nightly Fire Food Market at Guildhall Yard featuring food cooked over open flame grills, and wood-fired ovens, accompanied by fire-themed entertainments.

Guildhall Yard, 1-4 September, see website for further details.

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