LONDON, (Xinhua) — The City of London is marking the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London and its aftermath, arts charity Artichoke announced Wednesday.
The event will be marked with a series of art installations, concerts, lectures and tours, bringing to life one of the most significant moments in the country’s history.
London’s Burning festival, commissioned by the Artichoke, will include an audacious amount of meticulously planned and scrupulously monitored real flames, including a fire garden created by the French company Carabosse that will light up the lawn outside Tate Modern from dusk each evening until Sunday.
Helen Marriage, the director of Artichoke, said London’s burning brings a unique contemporary perspective to the Great Fire, exploring the challenges and issues faced by major world cities today, our relationship to catastrophe and crisis and our ability to adapt, adjust and rebuild.
“It is an artistic response that addresses the impact of the Great Fire of London on the City, its inhabitants and buildings, and how it emerged from the ashes and evolved to the resilient world city it is today,” she said.
The series of spectacular art events, which are all free to the public, will take place in key sites across the City, Southbank and Bankside from Aug. 30 to Sept. 4, marking this momentous event in London’s history and addressing its contemporary resonance with themes including displacement, disaster and the resilience of the urban Metropolis.
The most spectacular conflagration will be on Sunday night when a 37-metre floating sculpture of a street of 17th-century wooden houses, designed by the U.S. artist David Best and built on to barges by hundreds of schoolchildren and unemployed young people, will be torched.
Artist Martin Firrell presents Fires of London, two new commissions either side of the River Thames. Fires Ancient will light up the south and east sides of the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral with a fiery projection echoing both the catastrophic impact of the Great Fire of London on the Cathedral itself and the birth of the building designed by Christopher Wren that emerged, phoenixlike from the ashes.
The projection will be visible from across the river and with a unique up-close view from the public Roof Terrace at One New Change.
On the other side of the river, Firrell’s Fires Modern will be projected onto the flytower of the National Theatre’s iconic Grade II listed building. The projection of Firrell’s text and flames will reveal stories of resurgence and change that have shaped the capital city and created the open and diverse metropolis that we enjoy today.
With views across to the City and St Paul’s Cathedral, French fire alchemists Compagnie Carabosse will create a Fire Garden, transforming the riverside area in front of Tate Modern into a crackling, spitting, afterdark adventure.
“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,” London Mayor Sadiq Khan commented on the event.
The Great Fire of London began on Sept. 2, 1666, in a bakery on Pudding Lane, belonging to Thomas Farriner and spread rapidly west across the city.
The fire destroyed around 13,200 houses, 87 parish churches, St Paul’s Cathedral and most of the buildings of the City authorities.
The death toll is unknown, and there were only around eight to ten verified deaths that were recorded. However, there were many people, especially the poor, who were never recorded as existing so the number of deaths is likely to have been much higher.
Many believe that the fire saved lives of Londoners in the long run by burning down unsanitary houses following the Great Plague epidemic of 1665, which killed around 80,000 people, roughly a sixth of London’s inhabitants. Yet historians have stated that the plague covered a much wider ground than the fire and could not have killed off all diseases.