Tag Archives: Art

London Theatres in Lockdown

.A project documenting a hundred of London’s theatres and picture houses during the first Covid19 lockdown. Shown here is a selection.
The originals pictures are 5000+px. This page displays images at 600px wide.
Click any image for a slightly larger view.
Contact info and profile are below.


Trafalgar Studios during lockdown

Trafalgar Studios, Whitehall

Her Majesty's Theatre, Haymarket during lockdown

Her Majesty’s Theatre, Haymarket

Shaftesbury Ave / Sondheim Theatre during lockdown

Sondheim Theatre, Shaftesbury Ave

Royal Opera House, Covent Garden during lockdown

Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

The Palace Theatre during lockdown

The Palace Theatre, Cambridge Circus

The Old Vicin lockdown

The Old Vic, The Cut

Cambridge Theatre London during lockdown

Cambridge Theatre, Seven Dials

Royal Court Theatre during lockdown

Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square

Theatre Royal, Haymarket during lockdown

Theatre Royal, Haymarket

The Prince Edward Theatre during lockdown

The Prince Edward Theatre, Old Compton St.

_MG_0400_1_2_H copy

Southwark Playhouse, Newington Causeway

BAC during lockdown

Battersea Arts Centre, Lavender Hill

Theatre Royal, Stratford East during lockdown

Theatre Royal, Stratford East

Young Vic Theatre during lockdown

The Young Vic, The Cut

Coronet Theatre under Covid19 lockdown

Coronet Theatre, Notting Hill Gate

The Vaults, Waterloo during lockdown

The Vaults, Waterloo

Sadlers Wells Theatre during lockdown

Sadlers Wells Theatre, Roseberry Av

Boulevard Theatre duting lockdown

The Boulevard Theatre, Soho. A completely new venue that was forced to close after only 3 months



Curzon Cinema, Soho during lockdown

The Soho Curzon, Shaftesbury Ave

Leicester Square Odeon during Covid19 lockdown

Leicester Square Odeon

Electric Cinema during lockdown

Electric Cinema, Portobello Road

Odeon Camden Cinema, Parkway during lockdown

Camden Odeon, Parkway

Tottenham Court road Odeon Cinema during lockdown

Odeon Cinema, Tottenham Court road

Hampstead Everyman cinema during lockdown

Hampstead Everyman, Holly Bush Vale


About this project

I’m a media artist that’s dabbled in many areas – a long time ago I invented projection mapping. My big thing is light.
Mid March 2020 I was finishing a major exhibition at the OXO Tower. I was also keeping an anxious eye on the news. It seemed a plague was coming – a real full-bloodied lethal plague!
Our audiences slowly dwindled, my show finished, and the day after that I got initial Covid symptoms. Two days later the country went into the first lockdown.
A horrible month of illness later I felt wobbly, but fit enough to get on a bike. I cycled into central London.
Standing virtually alone on Waterloo Bridge with no traffic on the road, no boats on the river and no planes above was… breathtaking. The solitude was at once bizarre, unsettling, and gorgeously beautiful.
From the bridge I could see the National Theatre where I had worked during an important chunk of my life. It now sat empty, deserted, forlorn.
Zig-zagging down an empty Strand I revelled in the quiet and safety of empty roads. There were a couple of optimistic taxi drivers and a security guard out for a smoke, while completely empty buses patrolled the streets. Most of the homeless had been temporarily packed away, though as always a few desolate-looking souls had slipped through the net. The police kept a watchful eye on it all.
Soho was vacant. It was like someone had pulled the plug during the night, while everyone was cosily tucked up in bed, and in the morning the sun rose on this surreal frozen landscape.
Hundreds of lanterns continued to hang celebrating the Chinese new year (and would keep doing so for months). Cinemas promoted A Silent Place II and Parasite as if they were set-dressing from a disaster movie offering a sly commentary, while theatres boldly advertised shows put to bed weeks before. I had sat immersed in the dark in most of these places, and had worked in many of them too. I thought how a show, a theatre, an audience are living things in intimate collusion. Together they breath life – the sum of the parts etc. The notion occured to me that I had stepped into some outlandish and fantastically huge wake, and was now there paying my respects to their glorious but sad and empty remains. Everybody would get their turn to do this, one by one. Today it was mine.
The streets would of course fill with people again. Normality would one day return. But would all these shows? Obviously some wouldn’t. Would even the theatres themselves survive..? Some had already been on a financial knife edge.
I needed to return and document this. Lone photographers were taking their post-apocalypse snaps, but was anyone recording the theatres and cinemas?
Back home I made a list. Using Google Earth I got the best time to catch the light, and mapped out several day-long routes hopping from one venue to the next. So: 7.30am The Donmar; 8am The Royal Opera House; 8.30am Trafalgar Studios; and so on. This was going to take a while – I had more than a hundred to cover!
So over the next few weeks I would spend a day cycling across town taking photos, followed by several days of post-Covid exhaustion (I’m in that scary ‘long haul’ category).
It was certainly a mixed bag. Some venues were impossible to get to (like the Barbican Theatre buried inside the shuttered Barbican Centre), some were just plain dull, but many were visually stunning, especially the huge Victorian edifices like Her Majesty’s Theatre on The Haymarket. Doing the ‘post’ on these has been a real pleasure.

I’ll be updating this.



Right now I’m scouting opportunities for publication.
A magazine feature would be ideal.
Single prints are available.
Get in touch.
p.s. Please don’t share this page on social media. Cheers!

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.As part of the huge Mars and Beyond event at Bargehouse, OXO Tower on the South Bank, I was invited to create IKARUS, a installation/imagining of a craft of the future that carried its passsengers to distant worlds powered by a shared dream of stars.
.This used immersive stereoscopic technology (The Disinhibitor) I had developed for an earlier installation Memories Can’t Wait in 2015. Wearing a pair of 3D glasses, visitors entered a space filled with 3D projections that would create the illusion of entering an alien and fantastical space in which they appeared to float amongst infinite moving stars.
.The show ran from 20 February to 15 March 2020.

IKARIE logo 1DisinhibitorIKARUS SUNChildIts full of starstwo ladies in space3D AlienBargehouse PlanTina 3


..Here’s a short video giving a taster of IKARUS
IKARUS happy visitor


The Tree That Blinked at Light.Move.Fest

.In 2019 The Tree That Blinked was selected for Light.Move.Fest in Łódź, Poland – a festival that annually draws 800,000 people! It was a big success.

Couple comp lg 5
A couple contemplate The Tree That Blinked during setup the day before the opening.
Click any image for an expanded view.

Lodz Peggy Camera Comp copy
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Click any image for an expanded view.


Here’s a video of The Tree That Blinked in Singapore (2 mins)
Jonathan Ross 286 Poster 2

And a video (4 mins) of the first presentation at Gallery 286, London
with audience reactions.
TTTB screen shot sml



A Stereo 3D filmed installation running in a continuous loop of 8 hours.

CLIP0000249_002 ( any image for an expanded view.

Platform is being created using a high-speed camera and later modified to create full stereoscopic 3D – a technique I have been developing for several years. It stretches time, and adds a third dimension, transforming an everyday setting into a mysterious world of living 3D statues, and revealing a hidden beauty inaccessible to those present at the time.

Each section has its own content and tone depending on who is present on that day or evening. A hot summers’ day will yield something very different from Halloween. Choice of lens and exposure also add a ‘look’. The process is a little random (which is challenging and fun) and requires some skill and vision to mould into a finished piece.

Platform begins at Edgware Road tube station, and takes 8 hours to follow the Circle Line around back to Edgware Road again. This journey normally takes 40 minutes. The piece is edited to form a continuous loop.

To me Platform suggests both an apalling transience to our lives whilst paradoxically hinting at something more enduring.

CLIP0000249_002 (
Here in Stereoscopic 3D.
Click any image for an expanded view.


Using this technique, a 10 minute segment, Platform 6, was shot on Halloween 2017. Meant only as a test, it has since taken on a life its own, winning Best 3D at the New Media Film Festival, LA!

Amother segment, Notting Hill, is in competition at SD&A, San Fransisco, January 2020.

Platform 6 and Notting Hill are available for screenings, and need 3D projection and glasses.
Some info and stills – here


Platform 6

Platform ProRes Dec17 5 widescreen 3 (

Platform 6 was shot over one evening on the North London Line.

Platform 6 is part of a larger filmed installation, Platform, a endless loop of 8 hours. This segment was shot on Halloween and meant only as a test, but has since taken on a life its own, such as winning Best 3D at the New Media Film Festival in LA.

Platform is created using a high-speed camera modified to create full stereo 3D – a technique I have been developing for several years. The process stretches time, and adds a third dimension, transforming an everyday setting into a mysterious world of living 3D statues, and revealing hidden beauties inaccessible to those present at the time.

Each part is different in content and tone depending on what is happening on that day or evening. A hot summers’ day will yield something very different from Halloween. Choice of lens and exposure also add a ‘look’. The process is a little random (which is challenging and fun) and requires some skill and vision to mould into finished pieces later.

To me the Platform suggests both an apalling transience to our lives whilst paradoxically hinting at something more enduring.

Screen Shot 2018-07-01 at 23.49.23 (
Screen Shot 2018-07-01 at 23.50.00 ( Shot 2018-07-01 at 23.40.43 ( Shot 2018-07-01 at 23.52.44 ( Shot 2018-07-01 at 23.51.55 (

Here in Stereo 3D. Click to view images in a larger window.

Screen Shot 2018-07-02 at 09.30.47'Platform 6' - Karel Bata'Platform 6' - Karel Bata

Platform 6 was created over the evening of Halloween 2017.
It has been screened at:

The London Sci-Fi Film Festival
EXP Gallery, Hackney, London
Art in Flux, Ugly Duck Gallery, London
LA 3-D Film Festival, LA
SD&A, San Francisco
New Media Film Festival, LA (winner, Best 3D)
EVENT TWO, Royal College of Art, London
Victoria and Albert Museum, London
More to come…

New Media Film Festival 2019 Laurels


ARTiculAction magazine interview

Interview with Karel Bata in ARTiculAction magazine.
Click on image to open in fresh window.

.Karel Bata - ARTiculAction.

The Tree That Blinked at Singapore Night Festival

The Tree That Blinked - LayszaSingapore Night Festival audience
Click on any image to expand

This is quite mystical. In some parts of Asia, we believe there are spirits which reside in trees. Here, the British artist Karel Bata marries the persona of the tree with the portraits of people who had inspired him. Look closely at the details as the projections are set against the tree… then watch as it blinks and morphs into another face. Ingenious.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – — – –– David Sucha, Life’s Tiny Miracles

The one that did catch my attention was The Tree that Blinked. This ghostly display uses spotlights to form a person’s face on a large Banyan Tree, which then blink and change every now and then. …the face literally pops out at you the moment you shift into the correct viewing spot. I found this to be very, very smart.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – — – –The Scribbling Geek

My favourite of the whole festival however was The Tree That Blinked. It was amazing in so many ways, but the symbolism behind it was subjective which meant different meanings could come from this animated projection.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – — – – Kara Bertoncini, The AU Review

In 2017 Singapore Night Festival celebrated their 10th anniversary with 600,000 visitors. They had seen my earlier work and asked me to create something around their century-old Banyan tree to celebrate its antiquity. I was happy to oblige with my installation The Tree That Blinked.

It is a series of digitally manipulated portraits projected into an old Banyan tree in which I trigger and explore the mystery and myths that form such a large part of our perception of woodlands. The work moves and shifts as the leaves are blown in the wind, so facial expressions seem to change too and the faces appear to undergo transformations of age and identity. Blended with real movements in the faces, and subtle morphs from face to face, this provides a compelling illuison of something alive within the tree, of spirits within.

This was first shown in embryonic form at Gallery 286 in London. At the time viewers referenced childhood stories or experiences of mysterious forests and strange creatures, and even ideas of layered consciousness. Some saw the tree as benign. I have taken these comments on board, and the piece has grown with these ideas.

Click for video (2 mins)

Jonathan Ross 286 Poster 2

Some stills (Click any image to see a larger version)

TTTB Lyra Singapore Night FestivalTTTB Tree 1.49.12TTTB Katie Bailey SingaporeTTTB Tree 1.31.18TTTB Law 3

The audience loved it!
Audience 2.13.04 B ( 6 B ( 11 B (

A video (4 mins) of The Tree That Blinked first presentation at Gallery 286
with audience reactions.
TTTB screen shot sml


Platform 1


Platform 1

Platform 1, Hackney 2017

An installation of projected stereoscopic ‘living statues’.

At the core of Platform 1 is a series of Stereo 3D ‘living statues’ of rail passengers captured with a high-speed camera and frozen mid-gesture as we move past them.
This is then processed later to create a Stereo 3D image. It is part of a larger filmed installation, Platform, that runs for 8 hours. More information – here

Platform 1 is an istallation that evolves with the physical particularities of the venue it is in. The piece uses a large Stereo 3D screen made from non-standard projection material (such as a builder’s sheet!) giving a sense of the piece organically sited in its setting. It is presented using an innovative system using two 4k projectors that give an unusually bright 3D image.

Platform 1 is suited to a large space, but is very adaptable, and can be presented more simply, or in a smaller space, using a conventional 3D TV screen.

Platform 1 was first presented at EXP Hackney, London, November 2017.
It was shown again during Art in Flux at Ugly Duck Studios, June 2018.

The Tree That Blinked

The Tree Face WP 720
 Click any image to enlarge

The Tree That Blinked is a projection-mapped self-portrait toying with notions of identity, representation, and transformation.

The work moves and shifts as the leaves of the tree move with the wind. The expression thus seems to change, and the face appears to undergo changes of age.

The illusion can be compelling. Some folks think the leaves have been individually painted. Others that the tree must have been trimmed to the shape of my head!

Trying to give the work any specific ‘meaning’ is elusive, perhaps even pointless, as viewers bring their own strong personal interpretations. Generally they reference ideas of layered consciousness, and childhood stories of journeys into the forest. Some see it as actively benign, and The Wizard of Oz is frequently mentioned. Somewhere between these interpretations lies some kind of meaning…

It was first shown at Jonathan Ross’s Gallery 286 as part of an exhibition of self-portraits (he does have the perfect garden) and received an enthusiastic reception captured here by videographer Viral Mistry:

The Tree That Blinked on Vimeo

Click to play video: The Tree That Blinked

The Tree That Blinked 615

With Jonathan Ross at Gallery 286
Jonathan Ross, Gallery 286

The Tree That Blinked was staged as part of the Canary Wharf’s 2014
Winter Lights spectacular, outside One Canada Square.
TTTB CW web still 2
 Karel Bata

It was a major part of Singapore Night Festival
TTTB Lyra Singapore Night Festival
There is a blog about the Singapore installation here –
The Tree That Blinked at Singapore Night Festival (WordPress)

And here it is at Light.Move.Fest in Łódź, PolandLodz Peggy Camera Comp copy
Blog – The Tree That Blinked in Łódź


Note to arts curators:
The installation needs a suitably shaped tree, along with very low ambient light – ideally total darkness, where it is amazing (really!).
The projector needs to be just above head height, and as close to the eye-line of the visitors as possible. As you move away the effect breaks up, but this works in its favor when as you approach the tree there comes a point where visitors suddenly ‘see’ a face! The video shows that.
This installation only works after sunset, and many trees lose their foliage each year. In the UK this limits usage to autumn, though it will work well on a suitably-shaped Christmas tree.
At Gallery 286 we used my own 4K lumens projector. At Canary Wharf 6K. At Singapore 18k. And in Łódź 21k. The level of ambient light is the biggest factor determining the power required.
Once installed this can be left running. Power can be switched off to the whole set-up during the day, and my custom media player will boot from cold when powered-up. Someone just has to switch it on and off.


SX70 Polaroid experiments

In my 20s I devoured the monochrome photography of Walker Evans, Robert Capa, the NFA, etc. I must bought bought the whole PhotoPoche library. I was also a frequent visitor to Soho’s Photographers’ Gallery, and it was there I was blown away by Lucas Samaras’ bold use of colour, and his physical manipulation of Polaroid prints – so radical back then!

I saved up, bought a SX70 Camera, and set about moulding the dye layers as images formed, heating the prints, taking them apart, and even putting them in the microwave. Sparks flew(!) and each image was unique, yet a style clearly emerged that was all my own.

Such a shame the stock was discontinued. Here’s a couple of my prints. Click for a closer look.

 ……Micheal Read-Shaw: distressed polaroid ...Liz Hossack: distressed polaroid