To mark the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London, the capital has been lit up this week by the London’s Burning festival, organised by creative company Artichoke Trust. Running until Sunday 4th September, this series of events includes art installations, live performances, accompanied by talks and debates around one of the most momentous events in London’s history.
24 fingers has been given the privilege of supporting featured artist Martin Firrell and his socially engaged public art across social media.
Firrell’s ‘Fires of London’ is made up of a diptych, with FIRES ANCIENT being projected onto the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral, echoing both the catastrophic impact of the Great Fire of London on the cathedral itself and the birth of the building designed by Christopher Wren that emerged, phoenix-like from the ashes.
FIRES MODERN is projected onto the flytower of the National Theatre’s iconic Grade II-listed building and tells the stories of metaphorical fires of London – the struggles the city has both faced and continues to face. Similar to Firrell’s previous work, the campaign addresses public and social issues and highlights examples of injustice and inequality throughout the ages. The projections shares stories of black history, the women’s movement, LGBT equality, the protests against Clause 28 and the murder of MP Jo Cox.
Firrell comments: “I wanted to show how good things can come out of bad – Christopher Wren’s St Paul’s Cathedral came out of the devastation of the Great Fire. Civil liberties have been won through the actions and courage of historical figures like the Suffragettes and contemporary figures like Peter Tatchell and Doreen Lawrence. Telling these stories on the iconic Modernist building of the National Theatre feels fitting and important.”
Both projections will be shown until Sunday 4th September, when the festival reaches its dramatic conclusion when a 120-metre long sculpture of 17th-century London is floated onto the River Thames and set alight in a dramatic retelling of the story of the Great Fire.