Chila Burman turns Covent Garden’s historic Market Building into a Neon Wonderland

  • Chila Burman’s latest large scale neon art installation themed around love and identity and inspired by Chila’s Hindu Punjabi heritage, will feature vast light sculptures and uplifting messages, and  take over Covent Garden’s Market Building from August until October
  • Honouring Covent Garden’s rich heritage of culture and arts, this latest commission is a spectacular colourful 3D light installation 
  • Visitors from across the globe can immerse themselves in the installation digitally through a 3D experience on the Covent Garden website
  • This Pride, for every Instagram post celebrating identity captured beneath the neon wonderland, Covent Garden will donate to LGBTQI+ charity the Albert Kennedy Trust 

Covent Garden has unveiled its latest art commission by British artist Chila Burman who has taken over the historic Market Building with an immersive large scale light installation. In a bold celebration of London’s cultural heartland, Burman has transformed the South Hall and the Piazza into a giant neon wonderland filled with vast brightly coloured light sculptures and uplifting messages. Inspired by Chila’s family history, Indian culture and feminist perspective, the installation will be in situ until October. Visitors from anywhere in the world will also be able to experience the artwork digitally via a virtual 3D scan.

Designed to bring joy, positivity and a sense of magic to the public, visitors are welcomed with the message “do you see words in rainbows” emblazoned in neon purple across the iconic entrance of the Market Building, and Burman’s signature exuberant colours have transformed the inside of the Market Building into a bright spectacle. Symbolic neon sculptures of peacocks, tigers, flowers, snakes and bulls, plus positive words and collages in incredible kaleidoscopic colours, inspired by Burman’s Hindu Punjabi heritage and her bold vision, illuminate the space, transforming it into London’s biggest immersive art installation.

The centerpiece of the installation, a distinctive floating neon octagon suspended from the centre of the Hall, displays the words Deluxe, Kismet, Fruity, Pyar hi Pyar, Razzle, Love, Shine and Light. Each word was selected to embody the uplifting messages Chila Burman wants the installation to communicate. The word Deluxe means wonderful, super and luxurious; Kismet denotes destiny and fate; Razzle is used to describe celebration and excitement and the word Pyar hi Pyar means love is love in Hindi. Chila has also brought her own interpretation of Covent Garden’s history as a fruit, vegetable and flower market with the word Fruity, also the Punjabi word for tasty and delicious. Finally, the installation incorporates the words Bizarre and Bazaar, with the word play referencing the market history, as Bazaar means ‘market’ in Hindi.

Visitors to the installation can also venture to the North Piazza to see a white neon tiger sculpture, more of Chila’s famous bright collages which are inspired by Chila’s childhood memories, and a pink neon message “Look at you through their eyes and wonder what you see” illuminating the Market Building at the bottom of James Street.

As the installation is a celebration of love and identity, Covent Garden and Chila Burman will be supporting the Albert Kennedy Trust (akt) during this year’s Pride. Covent Garden will donate £1 to the LGBTQI+ charity Albert Kennedy Trust for each person Instagramming a picture of themselves at the installation and using #CoventGardenInRainbows.

Sustainability, waste reduction and environmental impact are themes that run through all of Chila’s art, and are paramount to the Covent Garden estate too. Chila has incorporated iconic pieces from her previous installations as part of her commitment to sustainability, including her signature neon tiger on the North Piazza. She has also repurposed vinyl and sculptures, including the words Love, Shine and Light, which sit alongside the newly commissioned elements – in an effort to reduce the environmental impact of the art world.

Ensuring this experience is available for all, visitors from around the world can engage with the immersive experience through an interactive portal on the Covent Garden website, where they can explore the space exactly as it sits in central London, via 3D platform Matterport.

The collaboration with Burman further cements Covent Garden as a pioneer of culture within London, with current public art from British artist Lakwena on display throughout the summer, and previous large scale commissions from artists Damien Hirst, Charles Pétillon, Alex Chinneck, Jeff Koons, Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, Anya Hindmarch and Anthony Burrill amongst others.

This September, Covent Garden will also launch a two-month-long celebration of culture and creativity. “The Colour of Creativity” will see brands across the entire estate celebrating Chila’s neon wonderland and drawing inspiration from it. Over 30 brands will be putting on their own creative events, workshops, installations and collaborations, including a low-light photography masterclass at Apple, an Avobar collaboration with Desenio, illustration masterclasses at Jo Malone and more across Chanel, NARS, Mulberry, Olivia Burton, Maison de Fleurs and The Ivy Market Grill.

For visitors to the Covent Garden estate the area offers an abundance of alfresco and indoor dining options. Global and independent restaurants including newly opened Ave Mario, join favoured dining destinations Sushisamba, Darjeeling Express, La Goccia, Balthazar, Frenchie and more. For shoppers Covent Garden offers open-air shopping in a historical setting with a number of exciting new fashion and lifestyle openings including Ganni, Arc’teryx and Vashi which join Tiffany & Co. Charlotte Tilbury, Paul Smith, A.P.C, Free People, Sandro, Polo Ralph Lauren, Mulberry and many more. The widespread pedestrianised streets and historical pockets of the Covent Garden estate make for a joyful day of exploring, with nearby museums, the Royal Opera House and its iconic Piazza making it London’s number one destination.

Michelle McGrath, Executive Director, Capco Covent Garden said: “Covent Garden has a rich heritage of art and culture and we are delighted to have commissioned Chila Burman to showcase her landmark new installation, vision and positivity. This collaboration celebrates Covent Garden’s heritage architecture and world class experiences within its unique open air neighbourhood.”

Chila Burman commented: “I am so delighted to have been invited for this commission, I’ve been drawn to Covent Garden since moving to London in the 1980s. It is this exciting energy and sense of magic that I’m capturing. ‘do you see words in rainbows’ will be a celebration of my Hindu Punjabi culture. Bright, exuberant, colourful and kaleidoscopic – the commission is designed to bring joy, positivity and a sense of magic to the public. It will be totally different to anything displayed at Covent Garden before.”

For further information on this installation, Covent Garden’s rich history supporting the arts and more about its shops and restaurants visit www.coventgarden.london

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