Artichoke to mark 350th anniversary of Great Fire of London with contemporary festival of arts and ideas

Resurgence, resilience and the evolution of the City of London are some of the key themes explored in LONDON’S BURNING, a series of spectacular events produced by Artichoke to mark the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London and its aftermath, taking place 30th August-4th September 2016.

LONDON’S BURNING will bring the Square Mile and beyond to life with a series of art installations, performances and talks that will give a unique Artichoke perspective on a significant moment in the country’s history. The programme takes in landmark locations across the city and includes; an underwater performance-artwork at Broadgate; a domino-like sculpture that snakes through the city’s streets tracing the multiple paths of the fire; and a spectacular riverside finale.

Audiences are invited to rediscover the City of London and adjacent areas, its past and its future. LONDON’S BURNING offers an opportunity to contemplate the lasting impact the Fire had on the architecture, outlook and infrastructure of the City including some of its most iconic buildings and landmarks.

For the last ten years, Artichoke has made work in the public realm that seeks to transform people’s lives and change the world through the creation of extraordinary moments.

Helen Marriage, Director of Artichoke said: “The 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London gives us a rare and wonderful opportunity to work on a historic event, the impact of which was felt far beyond the City of London, throughout the UK and beyond. As always, learning and participation will be an important part of our work, with young people at the heart of this national commemoration of a major moment in our history”.

With founding sponsorship from the City of London Corporation, an award from Arts Council England’s Ambition for Excellence programme and further support from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport and a raft of sponsors and funders, LONDON’S BURNING is part of Great Fire 350, a City-wide season of cultural events marking this anniversary.

Mark Boleat, the City of London Corporation’s Policy Chairman, said: “Helen Marriage and her team at Artichoke have worked tirelessly with a wide range of organisations and leading artists to put together a spectacular and ambitious programme of events to commemorate the 1666 Great Fire of London. As the founding sponsors of LONDON’S BURNING, the City of London Corporation has been very proud to be involved in this major project that will remember how the Fire claimed lives and devastated the City of London, but also celebrate how it rose triumphantly from the ashes”.

Joyce Wilson, London Area Director, Arts Council England, said: “We’re delighted to be able to acknowledge Artichoke’s ambitions for excellence by funding this project. It will bring the city together around a piece of incredible art, and in commemoration of a significant moment in its history. LONDON 1666 is a great opportunity to put the creativity of young people at the heart of a high-profile historic event with national appeal.”

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “The Great Fire of London was one of the most important moments in the history of the capital. The range of fantastic events taking place around its 350th anniversary shows once again that London is open to visitors from around the world.”


From the handful of recorded deaths to the tens of thousands made homeless in 1666, OF ALL THE PEOPLE IN ALL THE WORLD by Stan’s Cafe will count the cost of the Fire in grains of rice comparing historical facts with contemporary moments. Located in the Inner Temple and watched over by the stern portraits of four of the Fire Judges appointed by the King to adjudicate on compensation claims after the Fire, this installation offers a remarkably compelling way to experience the impact of these dramatic events.

HOLOSCENES, Early Morning Opera, Broadgate

In Broadgate, catastrophe will be given a more urgent theme with the UK Premiere of HOLOSCENES, a mesmerising 6-hour underwater performance-installation by US-based Early Morning Opera. Featuring individual performers going about mundane daily tasks as water levels rise around them, the piece embodies the trauma of flooding and climate change – a contemporary threat in a contemporary city and one we are ignoring at our peril.

DOMINOES, Station House Opera, City of London

DOMINOES by Station House Opera is an extraordinary kinetic sculpture. First commissioned by CreateLondon in 2009, DOMINOES has since travelled worldwide. This new version, specially-created for LONDON’S BURNING by artistic director Julian Maynard-Smith, will be its most ambitious yet, involving 600 volunteers, 26,000 breeze blocks and a 7km run through the

city, tracing the path of the Fire through its streets, buildings and public spaces, linking the past with the present in a symbolic and physical chain of cause and effect.

LONDON 1666, David Best & Artichoke, River Thames

This spectacular finale will see an extraordinary 120-metre long sculpture of Restoration London floated onto the River Thames and set alight in a dramatic retelling of the story of the Great Fire. The vast representation of the 17th-century London skyline has been designed by American artist David Best, working in collaboration with Artichoke.

The project has involved months of learning and participation work with young people across several boroughs adjacent to the City of London: Camden, Hackney, Islington, Newham, Southwark and Tower Hamlets. Hundreds of schoolchildren have taken part in integrated drawing and history workshops in schools across these boroughs, and designed decorative panels to be included in the final piece. The panels will go on public display in August in each of the five boroughs before being brought together on the river and assembled into the structure.

LONDON 1666 also offers young Londoners not in education, employment or training, a potentially life-changing opportunity to take part in the construction of the piece, and to experience a unique and collaborative working environment. Through workshops, placements and volunteering, young people aged between 16-24 years old from Camden, Hackney, Islington, Southwark and Tower Hamlets, will receive an introduction to the construction and creative industries, and the opportunity to gain a CSCS certificate and further employment qualifications, leaving a legacy of skills and partnerships and providing inspiration to help transform their lives.

LONDON’S BURNING talks series

The artistic programme will be accompanied by a talks series. Featuring speakers including London’s highest-ranking female Fire Fighter and authors Ben Rawlence and Suzanne O’Sullivan, and a “Great Fire in 3½ Pints Pub Crawl”, these accompanying talks will explore historical and contemporary themes including the language of crisis and the psychology of fear.

FIRE FOOD MARKET – Guildhall Yard

Running alongside the festival, over the weekend Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th September, Real Food Festivals will present a nightly FIRE FOOD MARKET at Guildhall Yard featuring food cooked over open flame grills, and wood-fired ovens, accompanied by fire-themed entertainments.

London’s Burning, produced by Artichoke, 30th August-4th September 2016 #greatfire350 #Londonsburning

  • Of all the People in all the World, Stan’s Café (Inner Temple, Tues 30th August-Sun 4th September, free)
  • Holoscenes by Early Morning Opera (Broadgate, Thurs 1st-Sun 4th September, free, see website for further details)
  • Dominoes, Station House Opera (City of London, Saturday 3rd September, free. See website for further details)
  • London 1666 designed by David Best, produced by Artichoke (River Thames, Sun 4th September, see website for further details)
  • London’s Burning Talks Series (Various venues, 30th August – 4th September, see website for further details)
  • Fire Food Market (Guildhall Yard, 1st -4th September, see website for further details)

Notes to Editors

London’s Burning

London’s Burning, 30th August-4th September, is a festival of arts and ideas, produced by Artichoke, with founding sponsorship from the City of London Corporation, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport and major support from Arts Council England and further support from a raft of funders and sponsors.

Great Fire 350

Great Fire 350 marks the 350th anniversary of the 1666 Great Fire of London. Throughout 2016, City cultural institutions will mark the commemoration with a variety season of events including exhibitions, concerts, lectures and tours. Events include the exhibition Fire! Fire! at the Museum of London from 23rd July. Full details at

About Artichoke

Producers of extraordinary live events, Artichoke is one of the country’s leading creative companies and is a registered charity, funded by Arts Council England.

At Artichoke we use art to undermine the mundane and disrupt the everyday, and create a new kind of world that we’d all like to live in.

Our previous projects include Royal de Luxe’s The Sultan’s Elephant, which brought an estimated one million people onto the streets of London in 2006; La Machine’s 50- foot high mechanical spider for Liverpool’s Capital of Culture celebrations in 2008; Antony Gormley’s One & Other 100-day long invasion of the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square in London in 2009; and Deborah Warner’s commission for the London 2012 Festival, Peace Camp, a nationwide celebration of landscape and poetry, which took place across eight separate sites around the UK; and Temple by David Best in Derry~Londonderry, attended by more than 60,000 people. Artichoke creates and produces Lumiere, the UK’s largest light festival, which has been staged in the medieval English city of Durham every two years since 2009; and in Derry~Londonderry in Northern Ireland as part of the celebrations for City of Culture 2013. In January 2016, the company staged the first Lumiere London, supported by the Mayor of London, attracting estimated audiences of over 1 million over four nights.

The City of London Corporation

The City of London Corporation is a uniquely diverse organisation. It supports and promotes the City as a world leader in international finance and business services and provides local services and policing for those working in, living in, and visiting the Square Mile. It also provides valued services to London and the nation. These include the Barbican Centre, Barbican Music Library, Guildhall School of Music & Drama, Guildhall Library, Guildhall Art Gallery and Roman Amphitheatre, London Metropolitan Archives, a range of education provision (including three City Academies); five Thames bridges (including Tower Bridge and Millennium Bridge), Central Criminal Court at Old Bailey, over 10,000 acres of open spaces (including Hampstead Heath and Epping Forest), and three wholesale food markets. The City of London Corporation is London’s Port Health Authority and also runs the Animal Reception Centre at Heathrow. For more details, visit

Arts Council England

Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. We support a range ofactivities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us.

In short, it makes life better. Between 2015 and 2018, we plan to invest £1.1 billion of public money from government and an estimated £700 million from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country. 

Event Partners

Paul Hamlyn Foundation

Visit London (London & Partners on website)

British Land

Major Supporters

Great Fire 350: Livery Company Supporters

Cheapside Business Alliance 

RSA Insurance

NatWest Skills and Opportunities Fund

London’s Royal Docks

Event Supporters

John Ellerman Foundation

M&G Investments

Land Securities

Oxford Properties & The Royal Exchange

Great Fire 350: Corporate Circle

J.P. Morgan

The Drapers’ Company

The Leathersellers’ Company Charitable Fund

The Mercers’ Company



Great Fire 350: Fire Safety Circle, Reignwood Investments UK, Daniel & Elizabeth Peltz, Allen & Overy, The Gerald Ronson Family Foundation, The Ernest Cook Trust, Lloyd’s Charities Trust, Kentec, XL Catlin, Cinven

With thanks to

Andaz Hotel, Brigade Bar & Bistro, Grange Hotels, The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple, 1 Lombard Street, S&B Herba Food


Major Supporters

The Drapers’ Company, The Leathersellers’ Company Charitable Fund, The Mercers’ Company

The Worshipful Company of Bakers

Platinum Supporters

Carpenters’ Company/The Building Crafts College, The Worshipful Company of Grocers

Gold Supporters

The Goldsmiths’ Company, The Worshipful Company of Arbitrators, The Worshipful Company of Pewterers, The Worshipful Company of Tin Plate Workers alias Wire Workers, The Worshipful Company of Wax Chandlers, The Fishmongers’ Company, The Worshipful Company of Clothworkers

Silver Supporters

The Worshipful Company of Armourers & Brasiers, The Worshipful Company of Barbers, The Worshipful Company of Cooks, The Worshipful Company of Cutlers, The Worshipful Company of Girdlers, The Worshipful Company of Gunmakers, The Worshipful Company of Insurers, The Worshipful Company of Masons, The Worshipful Company of Makers of Playing Cards, The Worshipful Company of Plumbers, The Worshipful Company of Saddlers, The Worshipful Company of Salters, The Worshipful Company of Scriveners, The Worshipful Company of Tallow Chandlers, The Worshipful Company of Tax Advisers, The Worshipful Company of Turners, The Worshipful Company of Tylers & Bricklayers, The Worshipful Company of World Traders

With thanks to

The Worshipful Company of Skinners


22 Bishopsgate, Tower 42, PwC, Landmark plc


Kentec, International Fire Consultants Ltd, Apollo, BAFE, Fire Industry Association


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