Not so Northern Lights

Have you every wanted to see the Northern Lights but were in the wrong part of the world or just couldn’t suffer the cold of Greenland to see them, well now there is a way you can, without freezing your ****’s off!!…

Greenwich may be the centre of time on this planet, but it’s not far enough north to experience one of the great natural phenomenons of the planet, that being the Northern Lights or to give them their posh name the Aurora Borealis, but currently (The end of August/start of September 2021), we got to experience something pretty close. As part of the GDIF an Installation by the Artist Dan Acher (pronounced: Asher with a French accent) brought Borealis to the grounds of The Greenwich Maritime Museum.

Right along the imagined line that marks the GMT in the grounds of the Maritime Museum, right next to the Thames (Where they filmed Thor), we found a queue in the darkness, between those magnificent English Baroque Buildings and ahead of us an open area filled with gawping people staring skywards at nothing.

Well nothing we could really see from outside, but as we closed in on the area we found a lawn surrounded by giant speakers, lighting rigs and atop them laser lights beaming over the grass about 10metres up and smoke machines pumping clouds of water vapour to illuminate the lights to create an illusion of the Northern Lights, accompanied by eerie music taken straight off of the YouTube Audio Library.

The shapes of awe inspired heavens, gawping ground based silhouettes, milling around and tinted by the every changing clouds of illuminated water vapour shifted through a rainbow of colours and densities, although green was prevalent when the shifts into purple and reds were quite stunning and cutting across the vista of the Old Royal Naval College and Maritime Museum’s magnificent architecture was something you could imagine from a H.G Wells or Jules Verne novel, we half expected Dinosaurs or an alien to appear through the mist any moment.

Fortunately or maybe Unfortunately that didn’t happen, so instead we wandered around staring up and watched the every changing spectacle much we suspect as any cold, northern tourist would do under the real Aurora Borealis, only we were serenaded by eerie sounds of droning, strings and the first few notes of My Chemical Romance’s Black Parade, we kept expecting someone to burst into “When I was a young boy, my father took me into the city…”. But no the dramatic soundtrack which we have found was simply a royalty free piece most probably by Jesse Gallagher, we just wander if the composer knew their piece was being used!

The sounds shifted and set the scene, only spoilt by screaming children who seemed bored or oblivious to the clouds overhead as kids always do and were instead playing a loud game of hide and seek in the darkness.

The bells of the Chapel rang out twice during our tour of the lawn and the magically transported journey to another world aka Greenwich, which meant we meandered for over an hour on a grass patch no bigger than a football pitch, it didn’t feel so long and that is probably the best statement we can make to Monsieur Acher’s masterpiece. We adjourned to the steps outside the enclosure, to watch for a while, sipping a beer and checking the photos we shot, before starting the long journey home once more.

Artist Dan Acher

If you want to see Borealis in Greenwich it is on until the 5th and then it moves to Woolwich for a second showing. Check out

https://www.visitgreenwich.org.uk/whats-on/borealis-presented-by-dan-acher-p1433211 or

https://festival.org/

For details and we recommend booking tickets to save queueing.


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