Illuminate 2022

Friday 4th March

The theme for 2022 was T R E E S and what grows from them and lives in them.

Poet WES VIOLA was commissioned by Illuminate to write his Animals Live in My Lungs on the theme, below.

Free lantern-making workshops rolled out across Bermondsey and Rotherhithe in libraries, pubs, churches, TRA halls, community centres and clubs.

Out of willow and tissue paper our communities built squirrels, owls, blossom, birds nests, birds, water drops, flowers, dragon flies, Queen bees, seed pods, leaves, bats, even a tree house.

The SHED made their surprise 2022 float – a growing tree lantern.

LOCAL ARTISTS delivered almost 50 free workshops demonstrating how to build with willow and paper, local photographers WENDY NOWAK and BERNARD CREELY and film-maker STEWART MORGAN documented the workshops and the processions, and local people gave time and energy to collaboration between Bermondsey and Rotherhithe.

At MAYFLOWER HALL, Neptune Street, SUE, JEAN and THORA served teas, coffees, hot chocolates and ELLIE’s famous FINNISH CHURH cinnamon buns for the start of the Rotherhithe procession. At ST JAMES’S CHURCH, Gary, Paul and Adrian served hot soup for their gathering lantern-makers.

Jean Mulholland

1,000 locals walked into Southwark Park with their hand-made lanterns. GARY JENKINS of St James’s church, Bermondsey, accompanied by ST MICHAEL’S COLLEGE SAMBA BAND and MARJAANA HARKONEN of the Finnish church Rotherhithe, accompanied by young people’s chants of ‘SAVE OUR TREES!’, led the processions.

WHITE WATCH at Dock Head fire station opened the event from the bandstand and served free hot pizza to the crowd.

The CEILIDH TREE BAND got the crowds barn-dancing amongst the trees in Southwark Park.

For more photos look at Festival Gallery 2022.

Wes Viola
thanks to Patrick Kingwell of Friends of Southwark Park

A friend once told me that writing is like having an external brain.
If you have a thought, and you write it, 
then that thought exists outside of you.
Once it’s written, the thought exists outside of your body
and it stays there.
You don’t need to keep it in your brain any more.
Once you can write, the whole world becomes your brain.
You can put thoughts anywhere.

Most animals can’t do that, 
so all their thoughts (near enough) stay inside them.
Because we (humans) can -
because we have external brains -
we like to make believe we’re not really animals.
But we are. We are animals
and we have to remember it.

Here’s another organ we can have outside of ourselves
as well as inside:
lungs. (breathe in)
The trees and the parks are like our external lungs
they breathe for us
they purify the air.

The trees are our external lungs.

Animals live in my lungs:
this and that,
squirrel and bat;
these and those,
bees and crows.

In a picture from ninety-three years ago
in the carefully catalogued drawers 
of the Local History Library on Borough High Street,
Alfred and Ada Salter hold spades
as one of my lungs is planted in the ground.
The mayor looks on in his chain
at the official ceremony of the planting of my lung.
People are gathered all around
to see the lung go into the earth
knowing it will flourish.

The bottom of my lung is submerged in the dark soil -
but this lung is so long and tall, even at its planting,
that it goes right out of the top of the photograph,
as if reaching into heaven,
to purify the air of heaven.

So here we are surrounded by our lungs
hundreds of them put here in the late 19th century
at a cost of two shillings a piece -
a cheap price for a vital organ.

Animals live in our lungs.
They sing here. They breathe here.
We are animals. 
Let’s sing
Let’s breathe
Let’s celebrate
Our lungs.

Ada and Alfred Salter planting a Tree of Heaven at the Tanner Street playground

Great thanks to those behind the scenes: Frog Morris, Cathy Wren, Georgia Clark, Gail Dickerson, Larry Broomhead, Annabel Stockman, and to give us all an essential burst of energy when we needed it, the one and only Jemma Bicknell, ex T&T.