When the clocks changed at the end of last month, new lights came on in York city centre. Designed by a consortium, the Urban Lighting Group, Renaissance: Illuminating York spotlights some of the city's obvious attractions - Bootham Bar, Fairfax House, St Mary's Church - with 15 historic sites getting a nocturnal makeover in the next few months. It's part of the council's wider strategy to make York more user-friendly, safe (and cash-generating) in the evenings, with its streets not just for flotsam from All Bar One (www. renaissanceyork. org. uk).
These new York lighting schemes will be permanent.
Taking a different tack, the Corporation of London (with art consultant Modus Operandi) is a running 'a pilot project' called Light Up Queen Street from 26 November-29 January.
This involves commissions from four artists - Susan Collins, Mark Lewis, Tim Head and David Ward - for the street that runs south from the Guildhall to the Thames. Both Collins and Ward have a track record of working very subtly with light.
Ward's recent project at Reading, with its illuminated coloured glass in upper windows of buildings down one main street, certainly enhances that undistinguished town centre, while his installation at the Soane Museum in 2003 was beautifully attuned to the Breakfast Room's mirrors and amber light. For Queen Street, Collins plans to draw attention to 'the hidden world beneath our feet', as in the picture above (www. cityoflondon. gov. uk).
'I knew that this work would be running through the winter - it's for the darkest days in London. There is a certain luminosity from the pieces. It is as if they hum with light.' So says Rachel Whiteread of Embankment, her installation of 14,000 white polyethylene cast-boxes now at Tate Modern.
It rivals Juan Muñoz's haunting Double Bind in 2001 as the most successful (and 'architectural') of these problematic commissions but the publicity it received has overshadowed what would otherwise be a major show for Whiteread, in Caruso St John's Gagosian Gallery, Britannia St, London WC1, until 3 December (www. gagosian. com). The 'boxes' reappear, but cast in plaster rather than polyethylene, and their allusions are more intimate and domestic.