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Artichoke to mark 350th anniversary of Great Fire of London with contemporary festival of arts and ideas

August 1, 2016 Destination Europe No Comments Email Email

Resurgence, resilience and the evolution of the City of London are some of the key themes explored in LONDON’S BURNING, a series of spectacular events produced by Artichoke to mark the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London and its aftermath, taking place 30th August-4th September 2016.


LONDON’S BURNING will bring the Square Mile and beyond to life with a series of art installations, performances and talks that will give a unique Artichoke perspective on a significant moment in the country’s history. The programme takes in landmark locations across the city and includes; 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.

Audiences are invited to rediscover the City of London and adjacent areas, its past and its future. LONDON’S BURNING offers an opportunity to contemplate the lasting impact the Fire had on the architecture, outlook and infrastructure of the City including some of its most iconic buildings and landmarks.

For the last ten years, Artichoke has made work in the public realm that seeks to transform people’s lives and change the world through the creation of extraordinary moments.

Helen Marriage, Director of Artichoke said: “The 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London gives us a rare and wonderful opportunity to work on a historic event, the impact of which was felt far beyond the City of London, throughout the UK and beyond. As always, learning and participation will be an important part of our work, with young people at the heart of this national commemoration of a major moment in our history”.

With founding sponsorship from the City of London Corporation, an award from Arts Council England’s Ambition for Excellence programme and further support from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport and a raft of sponsors and funders, LONDON’S BURNING is part of Great Fire 350, a City-wide season of cultural events marking this anniversary.

Mark Boleat, the City of London Corporation’s Policy Chairman, said: “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”.

Joyce Wilson, London Area Director, Arts Council England, said: “We’re delighted to be able to acknowledge Artichoke’s ambitions for excellence by funding this project. It will bring the city together around a piece of incredible art, and in commemoration of a significant moment in its history. LONDON 1666 is a great opportunity to put the creativity of young people at the heart of a high-profile historic event with national appeal.”

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.”


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 Judges appointed by the King to adjudicate on compensation claims after the Fire, this installation offers a remarkably compelling way to experience the impact of these dramatic events.

HOLOSCENES, Early Morning Opera, Broadgate

In Broadgate, catastrophe will be given a more urgent theme with the UK Premiere of HOLOSCENES, a mesmerising 6-hour underwater performance-installation by US-based Early Morning Opera. Featuring individual performers going about mundane daily tasks as water levels rise around them, the piece embodies the trauma of flooding and climate change – a contemporary threat in a contemporary city and one we are ignoring at our peril.

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’S 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.

LONDON 1666, David Best & 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.

The project has involved months of learning and participation work with young people across several boroughs adjacent to the City of London: Camden, Hackney, Islington, Newham, Southwark and Tower Hamlets. Hundreds of schoolchildren have taken part in integrated drawing and history workshops in schools across these boroughs, and designed decorative panels to be included in the final piece. The panels will go on public display in August in each of the five boroughs before being brought together on the river and assembled into the structure.

LONDON 1666 also offers young Londoners not in education, employment or training, a potentially life-changing opportunity to take part in the construction of the piece, and to experience a unique and collaborative working environment. Through workshops, placements and volunteering, young people aged between 16-24 years old from Camden, Hackney, Islington, Southwark and Tower Hamlets, will receive an introduction to the construction and creative industries, and the opportunity to gain a CSCS certificate and further employment qualifications, leaving a legacy of skills and partnerships and providing inspiration to help transform their lives.

LONDON’S BURNING talks series

The artistic programme will be accompanied by a talks series. Featuring speakers including London’s highest-ranking female Fire Fighter and authors Ben Rawlence and Suzanne O’Sullivan, and a “Great Fire in 3½ Pints Pub Crawl”, these accompanying talks will explore historical and contemporary themes including the language of crisis and the psychology of fear.

FIRE FOOD MARKET – Guildhall Yard

Running alongside the festival, over the weekend Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th 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.

London’s Burning, produced by Artichoke, 30th August-4th September #greatfire350 #Londonsburning

  • Of all the People in all the World, Stan’s Café (Inner Temple, Tues 30th August-Sun 4th September, free)
  • Holoscenes by Early Morning Opera (Broadgate, Thurs 1st-Sun 4th September, free, see website for further details)
  • Dominoes, Station House Opera (City of London, Saturday 3rd September, free. See website for further details)
  • London 1666 designed by David Best, produced by Artichoke (River Thames, Sun 4th September, see website for further details)
  • London’s Burning Talks Series (Various venues, 30th August – 4th September, see website for further details)
  • Fire Food Market (Guildhall Yard, 1st -4th September, see website for further details)

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