Chila Burman transforms Covent Garden into a ‘neon wonderland’

Covent Garden’s historic market hall has been transformed into a spectacle of exuberant light and kaleidoscopic colour.

The exhibition is the latest large scale neon art installation by British artist Chila Burman, since she transformed Tate Britain into a ‘swirling celebration of colour and light’ last Winter.

Inspired by the artist’s Punjabi heritage, the artwork highlights her family history, religious identity, and feminist perspective through iconography of peacocks, tigers, flowers, snakes and bulls.

EYE OF THE TIGER: Artist Chila Burman stares into the eyes of her white neon creation © Jeff Moore

And just as Burman’s Tate Winter Commission offered a glimmer of hope during a dark winter lockdown, Burman’s bold vision communicates this message again using positive words such as Love, Razzle, Deluxe and Shine.

Titled ‘Do you see words in rainbows?’ the work also features messages of love such as the words ‘pyar hi pyar’ emblazoned onto a floating octagon, which means ‘love is love’.  

‘LOVE IS LOVE’: The exhibition celebrates love and supports LGBTQ+ charities © Jeff Moore

Burman said: “The commission is designed to bring joy, positivity and a sense of magic to the public.

“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.”

In keeping with the work’s celebration of love and identity, a donation of £1 will be given to the LGBTQI+ charity Albert Kennedy Trust every time someone posts an Instagram of the installation with #CoventGardenInRainbows.

Burman’s theme of sustainability also runs through the work, as the artist has repurposed vinyl and neon sculptures from the Tate Commission to reduce waste in the art world.  

DOUBLE TAKE: Elements of Burman’s work form the Tate can be seen again this Autumn in Covent Garden © Jeff Moore

Visitors venturing to the North Piazza will be able to see a bright white tiger, collages inspired by Burman’s childhood and a pink neon message displaying “Look at you through their eyes and wonder what you see” by James Street.

And whilst the display of public art is free of charge, it is also virtually available via 3D platform Matterhorn, to ensure that anyone and everyone can access it.

WONDER WHAT YOU SEE: Burman’s work also illuminates the market’s entrance at James Street © Jeff Moore

Executive Director of Capco Covent Garden, Michelle McGrath, 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.”

AUTUMN ILLUMINATION: Visitors can see the work until late October © Jeff Moore

This September, a campaign to celebrate culture and creativity will also launch in London’s ‘home of culture’ to coincide with ‘Do you see words in rainbows?’

Covent Garden’s ‘Colour of Creativity’ campaign will involve over 30 brands, including Apple, Desenio and Jo Malone, offering creative events, workshops and installations inspired by Burman’s work.

‘Do you see words in rainbows?’ can be seen in situ until late October.

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