Lights Out to mark outbreak of World War One

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Everyone is invited to take part in a project next month by turning off their lights, leaving on a single light or candle for a shared moment of reflection.

People can take part in whatever way they chose, marking the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War either individually or by attending one of the many events being organised around the country for a collective experience.

Lights Out will take place on Monday August 4 from 10pm-11pm.

The project is being organised by 14-18 NOW, the official cultural programme for the First World War Centenary Commemorations.

The inspiration for Lights Out comes from a famous remark made on the eve of the outbreak of war by the then Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Grey, who said: “The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our life-time.”

Britain declared war on Germany at 11pm on August 4 1914 ushering in one of the darkest periods in our history.

Millions of people are expected to participate in Lights Out and hundreds of local authorities, iconic buildings, national organisations including the BBC and the Royal British Legion, parish councils and places of worship have already pledged their support.

Iconic buildings and landmarks such as Blackpool Illuminations, the Houses of Parliament, Eden Project, the Imperial War Museums and Tower Bridge will turn off their lights, the Royal British Legion has launched a campaign for at least one million candles to be lit across the UK and theatre productions including those of the National Theatre’s War Horse, both nationally and internationally, will invite their audiences to take part after their curtain calls.

Four leading international artists have been commission by 14-18 NOW to create striking public artworks in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England, as focal points for each of the UK’s four nations.

Each work takes the extinguishing of electric light and lighting of candles as a point of departure: Bombay-based artist Nalini Malani will present a large-scale video projection across the entire west elevation of the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh, commissioned with the Edinburgh Art Festival; Welsh artist Bedwyr William’s work will take the form of a large-scale light and sound installation presented at the site of the WW1 North Wales Memorial Arch in Bangor, commissioned with Artes Mundi; leading artist Bob and Roberta Smith’s new large-scale work using thousands of candles will be created by a range of community based groups in Belfast, commissioned with Factotum. Across London a special project will be revealed on the night of 4th August.

Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller has created an original Lights Out digital artwork in the form of an app, which anyone can download for free. Over the days leading up to 4 August a new short film will be revealed each day, culminating in a film being revealed for just one hour from 10pm-11pm on August 4.

Each commission takes a unique approach to creating a light source to bring people together for this important and poignant moment. Representing the diversity of contemporary artists working today and reflecting the range of artistic practice, from video projection and digital media to sculpture and performance, the presentation of these works is at the very centre of LIGHTS OUT.

Lights Out complements the candlelit vigil service to be held in Westminster Abbey.

The 14-18 NOW programme is funded by £10 million granted from the National Lottery including The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Arts Council England (ACE) which are contributing £5million each.

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