Covent Garden's historic market becomes a neon wonderland

Artist Chila Burman’s latest large scale neon art installation is themed around love and identity.

Covent Garden has unveiled its latest art commission by British artist Chila Burman who has taken over the historic Market Building with an immersive large scale light installation. In a bold celebration of London’s cultural heartland, Burman has transformed the South Hall and the Piazza into a giant neon wonderland filled with vast brightly coloured light sculptures and uplifting messages.

Inspired by Chila’s family history, Indian culture and feminist perspective, the installation will be in situ until October. Visitors from anywhere in the world will also be able to experience the artwork digitally via a virtual 3D scan.

Designed to bring joy, positivity and a sense of magic to the public, visitors are welcomed with the message “do you see words in rainbows?” emblazoned in neon purple across the iconic entrance of the Market Building, and Burman’s signature exuberant colours have transformed the inside of the Market Building into a bright spectacle.

Symbolic neon sculptures of peacocks, tigers, flowers, snakes and bulls, plus positive words and collages in incredible kaleidoscopic colours, inspired by Burman’s Hindu Punjabi heritage and her bold vision, illuminate the space, transforming it into London's biggest immersive art installation.

Covent Garden neon

The centerpiece of the installation, a distinctive floating neon octagon suspended from the centre of the Hall, displays the words Deluxe, Kismet, Fruity, Pyar hi Pyar, Razzle, Love, Shine and Light. Each word was selected to embody the uplifting messages Chila Burman wants the installation to communicate. The word Deluxe means wonderful, super and luxurious; Kismet denotes destiny and fate; Razzle is used to describe celebration and excitement and the word Pyar hi Pyar means love is love in Hindi.

Chila has also brought her own interpretation of Covent Garden’s history as a fruit, vegetable and flower market with the word Fruity, also the Punjabi word for tasty and delicious. Finally, the installation incorporates the words Bizarre and Bazaar, with the word play referencing the market history, as Bazaar means ‘market’ in Hindi.

Visitors to the installation can also venture to the North Piazza to see a white neon tiger sculpture, more of Chila’s famous bright collages which are inspired by Chila’s childhood memories, and a pink neon message “Look at you through their eyes and wonder what you see” illuminating the Market Building at the bottom of James Street. 

The collaboration with Burman further cements Covent Garden as a pioneer of culture within London, with current public art from British artist Lakwena on display throughout the summer, and previous large scale commissions from artists Damien Hirst, Charles Pétillon, Alex Chinneck, Jeff Koons, Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, Anya Hindmarch and Anthony Burrill amongst others.

Covent Garden night

This September, Covent Garden will also launch a two-month-long celebration of culture and creativity. “The Colour of Creativity” will see brands across the entire estate celebrating Chila’s neon wonderland and drawing inspiration from it. Over 30 brands will be putting on their own creative events, workshops, installations and collaborations, including a low-light photography masterclass at Apple, an Avobar collaboration with Desenio, illustration masterclasses at Jo Malone and more across Chanel, NARS, Mulberry, Olivia Burton, Maison de Fleurs and The Ivy Market Grill.

For visitors to the Covent Garden estate the area offers an abundance of alfresco and indoor dining options. Global and independent restaurants including newly opened Ave Mario, join favoured dining destinations Sushisamba, Darjeeling Express, La Goccia, Balthazar, Frenchie and more.

For shoppers Covent Garden offers open-air shopping in a historical setting with a number of exciting new fashion and lifestyle openings including Ganni, Arc’teryx and Vashi which join Tiffany & Co. Charlotte Tilbury, Paul Smith, A.P.C, Free People, Sandro, Polo Ralph Lauren, Mulberry and many more.

The widespread pedestrianised streets and historical pockets of the Covent Garden estate make for a joyful day of exploring, with nearby museums, the Royal Opera House and its iconic Piazza making it London’s number one destination.