Tuesday 25 October 2016

Wooden version of 17th century London to burn in Great Fire re-creation

Published 01/09/2016 | 11:11

Workers apply the finishing touches to a 120-metre long model of London's skyline in the 17th century
Workers apply the finishing touches to a 120-metre long model of London's skyline in the 17th century

A wooden sculpture of 17th century London will be set alight on the River Thames to mark the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire.

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The blaze, which raged for four days, was a catastrophe that changed the face of the capital in 1666, devastating thousands of homes and other buildings.

The Great Fire of London spread from Pudding Lane to the areas surrounding St Paul's Cathedral and Fleet Street from just after midnight on September 2 to September 5 - but remarkably only six deaths were officially recorded.

To mark the 350-year milestone, the London's Burning festival - a programme of free art events - is taking place at locations including St Paul's, the Tate Modern and the National Theatre.

Its finale will see a 120-metre long sculpture of the 17th-century London skyline burn in a dramatic retelling of the story of the Great Fire.

It is a collaboration between US artist David Best and Artichoke, the company spearheading the festival.

A live digital broadcast of the event will be hosted by Lauren Laverne from 8.25pm on Sunday, and will feature a series of short films revealing the stories behind the project.

Meanwhile, every night from Thursday to Sunday, the south and east sides of the St Paul's dome will be lit up with a fiery projection called Fires Ancient, echoing the catastrophic impact of the Great Fire on the cathedral and the birth of the building designed by Christopher Wren.

The projection, the work of artist Martin Firrell, will be visible from across the river.

On the other side of the Thames, a projection called Fires Modern will light up the fly-tower of the National Theatre's Grade II-listed building.

Helen Marriage, 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."

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."

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