Seeking Light & Colour: Abstract Illuminations, Menorahs and Other Symbols

The days are noticeably short and dark at the moment and I’ve intuitively been seeking light and colour. Last week I visited the Tate Britain; I’d pre-booked tickets and my chosen day turned out to be one of heavy rain. Since the start of the Pandemic in March I’ve embraced an ongoing challenge to be adaptable and make the best of things. So the seasonal illuminated facade created by artist Chila Burman provided an opportunity to incorporate the elements in my images. In the first photograph a woman carrying a pink and purple umbrella admires the facade which includes the words Love Shine Light:

Below, an abstract composition of distorted colourful reflections on the wet pavement:

Yesterday I walked along London’s South Bank and took a series of abstract photographs containing seasonal illuminations. Firstly another puddle shot, with graphic lines created by a tree trunk and branches. I like the way the purple stands out from the otherwise grey and black background:

Another abstract in purple and black, this time looking up:

An abstract London landscape with lights and construction work:

This week marked the 40th anniversary of the death of John Lennon. Last night was the start of the Jewish Festival of Chanukah, aka Hanukkah, an annual celebration of light and resilience. How are these two historic moments connected? Well, they are in the photograph below. Seen in New York’s Lower East Side a couple of years ago, the Menorah candelabrum is juxtaposed with a black and white photograph of John Lennon who is wearing a sleeveless New York City T-Shirt:

Next, a few more images referencing Chanukah in New York. A colourful heart and flower filled mural features a portrait of the iconic celebrity New York chef, writer and traveller Anthony Bourdain who took his own life in 2018. The street art surrounds a Chanukah greetings sign, complete with Menorah, from the orthodox Chabad Lubavitch community. It’s an interesting cultural New York mix as Anthony Bourdain was Jewish on his mother’s side but was an incredibly adventurous eater. I would say his culinary ethos was the opposite of strict Judaism and its dietary rules and taboos:

A couple more from New York’s Lower East Side. This men’s clothing store caught my eye, especially the combination of the mannequin with a bad wig and 70’s moustache (now on trend), and the illuminated Menorah:

I happened to be at the fabulous Russ & Daughters CafĂ© in Orchard Street one Chanukah evening where there was in informal prayer and gathering. I loved this dreidel-covered seasonal jumper. A dreidel or sevivon is a 4-sided spinning top with Hebrew letters on each side.The letters stand for Nes Gadol Haya Poh which translates as ‘a great miracle happened here’ . You can play games with it and there are childrens songs about dreidels and sevivons. (Coincidentally this week I also heard a jazzy track called Hanukkah on Japonica by New Orleans’ Panorama Jazz Band that references a traditional sevivon song):

Whilst it seems that the Menorah is commonplace in New York it is less so in London. In the past I’ve seen temporary official monuments outside stations and Trafalgar Square but rarely in popular culture, so I was pleasantly surprised when I came across this Stella McCartney shop window back in 2018:

Back to December 2020 and the colourful lights at Tate Britain and Chila Burman’s stunning neon tribute to diverse Festivals of Lights. I know of Diwali, Chanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa to name but a few – with love and light a unifying theme in these days of darkness:

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