A little bit of Vegas for Archway

Huge fountain of light to mark gateway to Islington

A SPECTACULAR 30-foot fountain of light is to be erected at the gateway to Islington to welcome people to the borough.

The dazzling artwork will burst into the sky from the roof of Archway Tube station to ward off the winter blues and attract visitors to the area.

The Big Rock Candy Fountain, by top artist David Batchelor, will see more than three thousand brightly coloured fairground-style lights flashing rapidly to simulate movement – and will be visible from the street, passing buses and surrounding homes and offices.

Organisor Anna Hart, who runs Archway Investigations and Responses (Air), a teaching and commissioning project at Byam Shaw School of Art, in Elthorne Road, Archway, said: “This is a really big thing for Archway and Islington. It’s the kind of thing you might see across the West End and think what an amazingly beautiful piece it is.

“David is a top artist and this will bring in people from across Islington and London. Around 2,000 buses a day come thorough Archway, and hopefully we will get international visitors coming to see what all the fuss is about while they are in London. It is going to be truly spectacular and it’s very exciting. It will bring the borough alive.”

Mr Batchelor said: “Fountains occur in just about every culture, from ancient Persia to modern Las Vegas. They can symbolise the origin of life itself, the abundance of natural resources, or the ability of humans to control some of the forces of nature.

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“While Archway may not be everyone’s idea of paradise, it is a great area with a vibrant mix of people. But there is a kind of darkness about the area around the Archway Tower, which I hope the fountain will help to dispel, at least for a while. The work is an invitation to look again at an area that is too often overlooked.”

The light fountain will be lit up in November 1, the day after the clocks go back, and will stay switched on until March 27, when British summertime officially begins.

It is primarily being funded by the Arts Council, with some money from Islington Council and other public bodies.

But not everybody has welcomed the idea.

Vincent Connolly, 19, barman at The Lion pub, opposite the station, said: “It sounds pretty pointless to me. I’ve lived here for nearly 20 years and I don’t see why Archway needs brightening up. The street lights do that just fine.

“Surely the money would be better spent on something else that’s really needed.”

The fountain will be the third in the series of annual events to brighten up Archway’s winters, following Hilary Powell’s Light Years Away and Jane Watt’s Trip the Light Fantastic.

A booklet with Mr Batchelor’s drawings of fountains across the globe from the last one thousand years will be distributed free across Archway, and a series of drawing classes will take place in front of the fountain.

An Islington Council spokesman said: “