Things to do in London: visit the new installation transforming Covent Garden into a neon wonderland this weekend
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Things to do in London: visit the new installation transforming Covent Garden into a neon wonderland this weekend

Chila Burman’s Covent Garden light display explores her femininity and Punjabi identity in the most beautiful way.

Covent Garden has long been home to a wealth of the capital’s culture, but now artist Chila Burman’s neon sculptures will be lighting up the iconic streets in a free to view large-scale installation.

Launching on 26 August, just in time to add into our bank holiday plans, the historic Market Building will be transformed into a giant neon wonderland, welcoming visitors with the message “Do you see words in rainbows” emblazoned in neon purple across the iconic entrance of the South Hall. 

Artist Chila Burman has created a neon wonderland in Covent Garden
Artist Chila Burman has created a neon wonderland in Covent Garden

The artist, who was responsible for illuminating Tate Britain in her “remembering a brave new world” installation following the pandemic, will now explore themes of identity and memory, taking inspiration from feminist perspectives, mythology and her Hindu Punjabi heritage. 

Burman’s bold vision and signature rich colours will transform the inside of the Market Building into a bright spectacle for the public to enjoy. 

Featuring a distinctive floating neon octagon suspended from the centre of the Hall, sculptures of peacocks, tigers, snakes and bulls illuminate the space, with uplifting words and collages visible throughout; the incredible kaleidoscopic colours make this unmissable for both art lovers or avid Instagrammers alike.

Burman's work also reflects her Punjabi heritage
Burman's work also reflects her Punjabi heritage

“I’ve been drawn to Covent Garden since moving to London to attend the Slade School of Fine Arts in 1981,” Burman commented upon the commission. “It is this exciting energy and sense of magic that I’m capturing. Do you see words in rainbows will be a celebration of my Hindu Punjabi culture. Bright, exuberant, colourful and kaleidoscopic – the commission is designed to bring joy, positivity and a sense of magic to the public.”

And isn’t that exactly what we need more of right now?

Burman's bold vision and colours will be illuminating the South Hall
Burman's bold vision and colours will be illuminating the South Hall

“My art has always celebrated and sought to emancipate the image of women. Feminine identity and my Punjabi heritage have shaped the way I’ve perceived the world, and been perceived by the world,” she tells Stylist. “This installation represents my culture; flamboyant, happy and exuberant, while reflecting on my experience of being a woman.”

“I’ve brought my feminist politics to the piece, you’ll see various motifs and symbols designed to celebrate feminine identity. And inevitably the celebration of my culture and Punjabi femininity has led to an exploration of imperialism, colonialism, race and class. Ultimately this project is designed to bring positivity and harmony to all who come to see it, and shine a spotlight on the beauty that comes from the different experiences and perspectives we all have.”

Do you see words in rainbows is lighting up Covent Garden from 25 Augus
Do you see words in rainbows is lighting up Covent Garden from 25 August

For those not able to attend in person, an exact replica of the installation allows e-visitors across the globe to digitally visit the immersive experience, exploring the space exactly as it sits in central London, via 3D platform Matterport.

Will you be making a visit?

Do you see words in rainbows by Chila Burman opens on 26 August and continues until the end of October in Covent Garden.

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Images: Jeff Moore