Hundreds of boats and lanterns to take to the waterfront at Leeds dock

Voyage installation for Leeds Light Night 2019, by Aether and Hemera, commissioned by the British Library.

A new installation at this year’s Light Night Leeds will see hundreds of origami boats and flower lanterns take to the canal at Leeds Dock in a sea of colour and light.

Reflections on the Water and Voyage is a collaboration with the city’s Buddhist community and the British Library – which has a major site at Boston Spa near Wetherby.

“This is the first time we’ve had a presence at Light Night Leeds,” says Jamie Andrews, Head of Culture & Learning at the British Library.

“We are committed to growing our presence in Leeds, building on our 50+ year presence at our site in Boston Spa, and to developing cultural partnerships in the run up to 2023.”

Responding to Light Night’s theme of ‘Mind, Body and Spirit’, Reflections on the Water sees two Buddhist groups from Leeds come together to share their practice.

Loi Krathong is an annual Thai festival where flower lanterns are decorated, lit with candles and floated on water; the British Library has worked closely with Headingley’s Thai Buddhist group Wat Buddharam to bring the festival to the city centre.

As part of a workshop organised by Wat Buddharam, Light Night visitors are invited to make and float flower lanterns on the canal and learn about the festival’s history.

Jamyang Buddhist Centre in Holbeck follow the Tibetan Buddhist tradition and have provided meditation, mindfulness and Buddhist classes in Leeds for over 20 years.

In the Tibetan Buddhist faith, light offerings are symbolic of removing destructive emotions and letting the light of positive and constructive emotions shine; they are also a way to practice generosity, to let go and to enjoy giving. Light Night visitors can join them in a light offering on Friday evening only.

Alongside Reflections on the Water is Voyage - a large-scale interactive installation by artists Aether & Hemera. This breath-taking work consists of hundreds of floating origami boats encasing coloured dynamic LED lights.

The boats can be controlled by smartphones and visitors are invited to interact, choose colours and turn the canal into a canvas.

Voyage encourages us to take a reflective moment of stillness among the bustling city which we felt was beautifully fitting to the overall theme of Light Night,” continues Jamie.

“The theme of Mind, Body and Spirit really appealed to us; libraries today are wonderfully vibrant places, but they also offer space for reflection and quiet learning and are open to everyone.”

The British Library’s other major site in London is preparing to host an exhibition on Buddhism this Autumn and in parallel with the installation the Library is lending one of its rare Burmese Buddhist manuscripts to the Royal Armouries.

The manuscript will be on loan to the Royal Armouries in the Oriental Gallery from 9th October 2019 – 12th January 2020.

“It’s wonderful to further our relationships and connections in Leeds, including with our friends and partners at Royal Armouries,” Jamie conclude.

“We look forward to welcoming visitors to the waterfront for an evening of calm and colour.”

Reflections on the Water and Voyage are at Leeds Dock on Thursday October 10th and Friday October 11th from 6.30pm to 11pm

Jamyang are present on Friday October 11th only

There are many more installations in the South Bank area

For more information visit


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Wat Buddharam is a Buddhist monastery based in Headingley; it is a centre for the Leeds Thai community, and others, to learn meditation, chanting, dhamma and Buddhist practice.

For more information visit

Jamyang Buddhist Centre was founded in 1996. It offers weekly meditation classes, suitable both for beginners and the experienced, and a dynamic programme of courses. It runs residential retreats three times a year. Everyone is welcome to attend.

Jamyang will be at Leeds Dock on Friday 11th October only.

For more information visit

Voyage creatively transforms waterfronts, expanding the physical space of rivers, lakes, canals and waters of different cities and places. Created by artists Aether & Hermera, it has travelled to London, UK; Baltimore, US; Bilbao, Spain; Scottsdale, Arizona, US; Canberra, Australia; Irvine, Scotland; Salford Quays, UK; Blenheim Palace, UK; Metz, France; Dubai, UAE; Kew Gardens, UK; each time adapting layout and size, based on the specific location.

This is its first time in Leeds.

For more information visit

Every full moon on the third week of November in Southeast Asian countries, Buddhists celebrate a festival known in Thai as Loi Krathong. Traditionally they make baskets of banana leaves, filled with flowers and float them on water whilst making a wish. The festival may originate from an ancient rural ritual of paying respect to water spirits, with different beliefs – and different names for the celebration - across the regions of Southeast Asia. However, the shared common belief is that with floating Krathong over the river, sins will be carried away.

Full listing of activity at South Bank can be found here

Light Night Leeds is the UK’s largest annual arts and light festival. The spectacular two-night event takes over Leeds city centre with more than 60 installations and performances from local, national and international artists.

The British Library in London will host its Buddhism exhibition from October 25th to February 23rd. More information can be found here

For more information:

Ben Sanderson
The British Library
t: +44 (0)1937 546 126

Evenings and weekends:
+44 (0) 20 7412 7150

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