1st Festival of Lights in Wallonia to host work by British artist Robert Montgomery

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1st Festival of Lights in Wallonia to host work by British artist Robert Montgomery
Wallonia capital of culture is planning on making “Mons By Light” a new, unmissable event on the Wallonia calendar, capable of attracting thousands of visitors and further accentuating our city as Belgium’s first destination of choice. © Robert Montgomery.

WALLONIA.- From today until 04 February, 2024, Wallonia capital of culture is launching a large event which will animate the city during the calmest period of the year: the first Festival of Lights in Wallonia! The objective is to support businesses by bringing many tourists and visitors into the city. This ambitious project, financed by European funds (to be spent solely as part of the touristic budget with no exception), should indeed attract tens of thousands of visitors to Mons every year during the same period.

A free 3 km route scattered with 25 installations will be accessible for all. The use of LEDs will hugely limit the energy consumption of these installations.

Carefully developed in harmony with the urban setting and architecture of the historic center, the proposed light projections will submerge visitors in a spellbinding atmosphere that will leave them amazed.

Wallonia capital of culture is planning on making “Mons By Light” a new, unmissable event on the Wallonia calendar, capable of attracting thousands of visitors and further accentuating our city as Belgium’s first destination of choice.

"This winter event will fill in the gap in this period of the year that was not covered by the events policy that I bolstered when I became mayor: with the romantic film festival, the spring festival, the beer festival, the Ducasse de Mons traditional festival, the feux de la Saint Jean fire festival, the national festival, Destination Mons, Tanks in Town, Festifood and Wallonia festivities, the autumn funfair and the Christmas market, Mons is becoming the liveliest urban center in Wallonia, punctuated with events animating it all year round. Furthermore, the festival of lights will coincide with the gradual ending of renovation works in several neighborhoods of the historic center, allowing the city to grow in beauty and become firmly established as the major heritage and touristic benchmark of Wallonia," Nicolas Martin, Mayor of Mons.


For each edition, Mons By Light intends to invite a guest international artist. For this edition, focusing on the theme of Surrealism and poetry, the choice naturally inclined towards Robert Montgomery, the British artist who is internationally recognized for his poetic work.

Robert Montgomery is a well-known British contemporary artist. He creates poems on billboards, light installations, fire poems, etchings on wood, paintings and watercolors. His work is an expansion of concrete poetry and draws comparison with the tradition of the textual art of the language of poetry. He represented the United Kingdom at the Kochi Biennale in 2012 and at the Yinchuan Biennale in 2016. His pieces are included in museum collections all over the world, notably in the Albright Knox in New York and the Houston Museum of Fine Art. He has had individual exhibitions at the Aspen Art Museum (Colorado), the Oklahoma Contemporary (Oklahoma City) and at the Cer Modern Museum (Ankara). His work has recently been included in the "La Suite de l'Histoire" exhibition at the Louvre in Paris – the museum’s first contemporary art exhibition. His work is extremely popular on the internet, with over 200 million shares of his work, “The People You Love Become Ghosts Inside Of You."

A word by Robert Montgomery, artist

"When I was asked to create pieces for the first light festival of Mons, I was very enthusiastic, especially when I was told about the theme, namely the celebration of 100 years of surrealism. The first edition of La Révolution Surréaliste was published in Paris in 1924. In the 1990s, when I was studying painting at the Edinburgh College of Art, I discovered the poetry of André Breton and Paul Éluard (by reading them in English translations by Samuel Beckett and Paul Auster). These poems had a fundamental influence on me. In fact, this is what made me decide to use text in my work. Before reading the surrealists’ poems, I was just a painter. After reading them, I wanted to be both a painter and a poet. Therefore, these poems really changed the course of my work and my life. Something special happened when Beckett and Auster tried to translate Breton’s and Éluard’s work from French into English – they had to push the limits of the English language to achieve what the surrealists had and push it to do things that it could not do before. The way I use language in my work and the reason why I use it in the first place, is always strongly influenced by Breton and Éluard with the help of Beckett and Auster."

“Mons By Light is much more than a festival. It’s an invitation to rediscover our city, to see it in a new light; and also, a very good reason to invite international tourists to visit the gem that is the city of Mons.” -Natacha Vandenberghe, Director of the Culture and Tourism Department of the City of Mons.


25 to 28 January 2024 and 01 to 04 February 2024

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