A â€˜Rain of Poems' fell from a helicopter as it hovered above Jubilee Gardens for 30 minutes, distributing 100,000 bookmark-shaped poems onto large crowds as they scrambled excitedly to catch and collect them all.
The Lancelots' powerful beams swept the sky, roof tops and the magnificent London Eye, which formed the backdrop for the deluge of poetry, picking out the spinning poems from the darkness as they descended through their long shafts of light.
The event, which marked the launch of Southbank Centre's Poetry Parnassus festival, was the brainchild of Chilean art collective, Casagrande, which has created similar events in Santiago, Berlin, Guernica, Warsaw and Dubrovnik, cities which have all suffered aerial bombardment in the past.
“The Rain of Poems is re-imagining of these tragic events, with a â€˜bombing' of poetry representing a message of peace,” explains Southbank Centre's Participation Producer for Literature and the Spoken Word, Bea Colley. “Poetry Parnassus is the biggest ever international poetry festival to happen in the UK and, with the eyes of the world on London this summer, we invited poets from each of the 204 Olympic nations to contribute their poems and join us at Southbank Centre. We also included fifty poets from Chile and a further fifty up and coming young poets from the UK. In all, over 300 different poems were scattered from the helicopter for the crowds to collect.”
It was Southbank Centre Technical Manager, Roger Hennigan, who chose the Lancelot followspots for the event: “I specified Robert Juliat Lancelots in particular as I know the fixture and product range well. I knew they were big and bright enough for this special event and manoeuvrable enough for the operators to be able to react quickly under â€˜live' conditions. We wanted the beams to stretch as far as they could, and they succeeded, forming strips of light above County Hall and through - and beyond - the London Eye. It was a great project to work on and a little out of the ordinary to say the least, but the Lancelots can turn their hand to anything.”
Colley concludes,“It was a strange but beautiful experience, especially as darkness fell, and the beams transformed the slivers of poetry into a silver rain of ticker tape.”