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Lights Out at the RA: commemorating the First World War

Published 31 July 2014

We’re joining in with a national moment of reflection on Monday 4 August.

  • From the Blackpool Illuminations to the Tower of London, places across the UK will be switching their lights off for one hour on Monday evening as part of Lights Out.

    The event comes under the umbrella of 14-18 NOW, a cultural programme taking place across the United Kingdom to mark the centenary of the First World War.

    Lights Out was inspired by the words of the Foreign Secretary in 1914, Sir Edward Gray, who said on the eve of war: “The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.”

    The hour between 10pm and 11pm represents the final minutes of peace on 4 August 1914, before Britain declared war on Germany at 11pm that evening.

    Across the country, people will gather at churches, war memorials and community centres to mark the event, while others will switch off lights at home and replace them with a single candle or source of light. Royal Academician Bob and Roberta Smith is one of four artists who have been commissioned to create public art to mark the occasion. He will be working with community groups to create an installation in front of City Hall in Belfast.

    At the Royal Academy, we will be switching off the lights across the façade of Burlington House and lighting a single candle in front of the building at 10pm.

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    Our #LightsOut moment on 4 August 2014

  • RA war stories

    Starting on Monday and continuing throughout the week, we will be publishing a series of blogs by our archivist Mark Pomeroy telling the story of the Royal Academy during the First World War.

    Mark has delved into our archive to discover incredible stories – from the Red Cross setting up a work centre at the RA where women spun dog hair to make warm clothes for the sick and injured, to the moment when a bomb plunged through the gallery’s roof, leaving scars on the building that are still visible today.

    You can follow the blog series here, and follow the hashtag #lightsout on social media channels on Monday evening to see photos and videos of Lights Out moments across the UK.