A group of gigantic, luminous humanoids will land in the city centre for a captivating interplanetary installation at this year’s Light Night Leeds.
The mesmerising piece, entitled Fantastic Planet, is set to be one of the highlights of the annual cultural spectacular and will be found in the event’s new Victoria Zone, occupying sites in Sidney Street, Victoria Gate, and the top end of Briggate.
Inspired by a vision of a far-flung future, the piece has been created by Australian artist Amanda Parer, with the creatures designed to look like travellers from an alien world exploring the city of Leeds for the first time.
Amanda, who is now based in Tasmania said: “These forms aim to give audiences the impression that they have just landed and are quietly and gently exploring our ‘fantastic planet’.
“The inflated sculptures will be strategically placed to give the sense that they have taken over the event site and the artwork aims to instil a sense of fantasy and give an opportunity for self-reflection for those visiting Light Night.”
The figures draw on the plot of Fantastic Planet, a 1973 Czech/ French science fiction film set in a distant future. The film features a world of gargantuan humanoids, where human beings have become a feral race.
But despite their seemingly dystopian origins, Amanda has been struck by the warm welcome the characters have received in the 100 cities they’ve already visited worldwide.
She said: “The spaces where these works are displayed may be places where people commute through every day and then suddenly one day there are giant aliens in it. These art installations allow a space for play, imagination, and contemplation.
“We have had some experiences at some of these locations- the works are interactive and we encourage people to gently touch, nestle amongst, and even cuddle them.
“At a number of locations, we have found lipstick kiss marks on the material- I haven’t worked out if this is gross or lovely yet. But it’s been heart-warming to see that overall, the responses from people from all over the world have been of wonder and appreciation to be allowed to enter a realm of fantasy.”
Fantastic Planet is being supported by Victoria Leeds.
Jo Coburn, general manager of Victoria Leeds said: “We are excited to welcome what is sure to be the show-stopper of Light Night Leeds this year. The scale of the piece and the marvel that these humanoids inspire is magical. We are over the moon that we can host this piece here at Victoria Leeds, bringing something completely different and enchanting to our customers.”
The installation will be one of more than 60 incredible light and sound pieces which will transform city centre landmarks around Leeds including The Queens Hotel, Kirkgate Market, Leeds Town Hall and Leeds Civic Hall.
This year’s event has the theme of progress and innovation, with a programme of pieces by international artists celebrating history, technology and social change.
More details about the programme will be revealed in the coming weeks.
Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council said: “Over the past 14 years, Light Night Leeds has continued to evolve, growing into an event of such impressive ambition and creativity that it has become one of the benchmarks for culture and innovation in Leeds and beyond.
“As Light Night once again brings thousands of people together, we hope that the event is not only a celebration of culture and artistic endeavour but also of the unity, diversity and collective civic pride which are part of the foundation of Leeds.”
Light Night Leeds takes place on October 4 and 5 from 6 pm until 11 pm. The event’s headline partner is Leeds 2023.