Anna Lomax's weather report

A set designer winterizing a beer garden for Converse on her love of Bethnal Green weather

Arts+Culture Q+A
neon final drawing crop

Converse has spurned winter's chill with its new Winterized sneaker collection, which includes a range of Chuck Taylor All Star's outfitted for winter weather. The most iconic Converse silhouette has been updated using premium materials and fabric treatments that help combat the cold, wet winter months. Converse Winterized sees them taking over chilly London beer gardens and ‘winterizing’ them, with installations from the likes of Bwoy Wonder and Anna Lomax and a series of outdoor events including film nights, comedy, gigs and more at pubs across LondonTo win tickets to an outdoor event, go to getwinterized.co.uk.

Anna Lomax has been known to perform experiments in which food cooks itself, create altars bedecked with perfume and grapefruits and design jewel-laden theatrical displays for a hermit crab. The east London-based set designer and art director is now applying her capable hands to an illuminated weather map for Converse Winterized, which will be transforming pub gardens across London throughout November with a series of mesmerizing installations.

Anna’s piece is based on historical weather data and inspired by the British propensity to go on about the elements. At just under three metres tall, its multicoloured lights will intermittently dim and glow to create a visual equivalent to the soporific sound of the shipping forecast in the unlikely setting of the Old George on Bethnal Green Road.

Dazed Digital: Hi Anna, can you introduce your installation to us please?

Anna Lomax: My piece for Converse is a large light installation. Based on the idea of the British being obsessed with the weather, I wanted to make something that compared the weather of the past to the immediate climate that the audience would be experiencing. I like the idea that as a nation we are always moaning about the weather being colder or warmer or windier or wetter than the year before. As the installation runs through the weather of years gone by, we are reminded that it's probably the same today as it was every other year - or maybe not!

DD: How do you visualise that connection?

Anna Lomax: The piece is constructed from neon lights, which are programmed with weather data for every day in November for the last 30 years in Bethnal Green. On each day in November 2013, the installation will sequence through the historical weather for that date, creating an ever-changing canvas within the garden. The neon designs are based on standard weather symbols. I really like the way the symbols look and the different compositions that are created when combined with the weather data.

DD: How do the neon symbols physically interact with the weather data? What happens to them?

Anna Lomax: The weather symbols have been chosen to represent different types and degrees of bad weather. Using the historical data, the neon symbols are programmed to dim on and off to create a reflection of our weather in the UK. My favourite symbol is the one representing sky totally obscured by smoke. This doesn't actually happen as a natural event, but as we are in a pub garden it will probably stay on the whole time!

DD: The symbols have a fascinating hieroglyphic feel. How did you go about researching these codes and channelling them into the final piece?

Anna Lomax: When I first started the project I was thinking about the shipping forecast that is read out on the radio. I have always found it really calming, despite not really understanding it, and I wanted to capture this feeling and make a visual response to it. I like the idea that the lights turning on and off create a visually fascinating scene with a slow, peaceful rhythm regardless of what they could actually be illustrating, like storms, freezing fog or heavy rain. The symbols used are actually true to the standard weather symbols. They are so visually appealing that when I started my research I knew they had to be used in the final piece. Pattern, colour and composition are always strong factors in my work so it was a pretty natural progression to use the original symbols. I like the idea of them having the feel of hieroglyphics, it reflects the fact that they are telling a story of years gone by.

DD: What has the weather been like in Bethnal Green for the past 30 years? Have you noticed any interesting patterns or freak weather incidents?

Anna Lomax: Pretty much as you might expect: rain! But warmer than I imagined and with quite a few thunderstorms. All translated it makes for a pretty exciting Northern Lights-type experience.

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