From August 2021 to January 2022, the Illuminated River category received close to 200 entries from amateur photographers based in London and across the UK, capturing the Illuminated River artwork spanning from London to Lambeth bridges and celebrating Central London’s historic links with the river.
The winners of the Illuminated River category were chosen by a panel of representatives from Thames Festival Trust, Port of London Authority, Former Director of the Illuminated River Foundation, Sarah Gaventa and Kim Murphy, Digital Media Manager at Caro Communications.
Colour Rush by Warren Chrismas was declared the overall winner of the Illuminated River category of Thames Lens 2021. The photograph documents London Bridge at evening rush hour and demonstrates the artwork’s synergy with its surrounding environment. The judges admired how, in this image, Leo Villareal’s soothing washes of coloured light appear to mimic the London sky during sunset and are reflected in the currents and tides passing beneath. Using the camera as a framing device, the photograph provides a snapshot of the continuous stream of movement that unfolds across the capital’s largest public space - the Thames – with London Bridge taking centre stage.
Commenting on his photography, Warren Chrismas said: "The beautiful, evolving lights have truly transformed the Thames, rightly drawing attention to the bridges in a city full of famous historic landmarks and stunning skyscrapers. The tones don’t really seem out of place at all. In fact, some evenings when I take photos of London Bridge like this, it feels like nature’s now working extra hard to compete!"
As part of the competition prizes sponsored by the Illuminated River Foundation, Warren Chrismas received £500 in cash, plus an exclusive dinner cruise with City Cruises.
Second Prize was awarded to John Franglen for his photograph, Terry and Julie. The judges were drawn to the image’s narrative quality, which invites the viewer to observe an intimate moment of two people embracing on Waterloo Bridge, evoking the personal ties and romantic associations held by many in relation to London’s historic bridges. Its title alludes to the characters of the Kink’s famous song Waterloo Sunset: “But Terry and Julie cross over the river / where they feel safe and sound / And they don’t need no friends / As long as they gaze on / Waterloo Sunset / They are in paradise.”
Leo Villareal’s single line of light - which stretches 379 metres across each side of Waterloo bridge – is dramatically juxtaposed against the dark silhouette of the two figures and a pedestrian passer-by.
John remarked: "Whilst it felt a little intrusive, when I saw two strangers embracing in the sunset on Waterloo Bridge, the combination of the sun behind them and the illuminated bridge before, turned them into anonymous silhouettes that I felt able to share… Much like the song [Waterloo Sunset], this photograph epitomises the way bridges are a place that people meet, a central part of the day-to-day life of Londoners.”
As Second Prize winner, John Franglen was awarded a Philips Hue Smart lighting system, plus an exclusive dinner cruise with City Cruises.
Sarah Gaventa, Illuminated River Foundation’s Former Director, said: “It’s great to see how Illuminated River has become a source of inspiration to so many amateur photographers. We are delighted with the calibre of entries in our new Thames Lens category - focusing on Illuminated River’s artwork across nine Central London bridges. Drawing close to 200 applications, the entries championed Leo Villareal’s artwork in original ways, re-interpreting this monumental public artwork with fresh eyes. Warren Chrismas’ winning photograph, ‘Colour Rush’, which captures the sunset tones of London Bridge at evening rush hour, perfectly encapsulates the spirit of the competition, celebrating the Thames and its bridges as important civic spaces where transport, culture, working life and recreation all converge.”
The shortlisted entries showcased a wide range of interpretations of the Illuminated River theme. The Judges were impressed by the following set of photographs, awarding them high scores.