With four world premieres, a European premiere and a raft of newly commissioned works the Light Up Poole festival of light art has thrust the town firmly in the twin spotlights of art and science.
The festival marks the first participation of cutting edge French engineering company MINUIT UNE as sponsor for the premiere of Harbour Glow, an ambitious site-specific work that will see Poole’s dockside and cranes illuminated by moving light to create a uniquely immersive experience.
MINUIT UNE’S products are the first lighting concept specially designed for experience. Lightweight and incredibly versatile they produce stunning architectural displays with innovative shapes and décor that envelope the audience. The very definition of seeing Poole in a new light Harbour Glow has been made by James Smith, the Poole-based international lighting designer, and local company Wolf Lighting with festival directors Audacious supported by Poole Harbour Commissioners and MINUIT UNE.
“We’re bringing the dock to life,” says James. “It is very much a working dock and quite beautiful in its own way, but we’re using colour to change how we see the dock, to bring some magic to the space.
“We’ll be using the sky and the water surface so that it is as complete an immersive experience as it can be – we will literally make the harbour glow. It’s a new piece, so a world premiere, and MINUIT UNE’s products have never been used outside in this way before.”
James Smith and Wolf Lighting have also designed Reach for the Stars, a large beacon of light at the Fish Shambles that accompanies the electronica soundscape of Sandie Elkins.
“I’m from Poole, went to school at Poole High, lived here all my life, but as a theatrical lighting designer I travel the world and there are light festivals all over the place. What we are creating with Light Up Poole is very special; it’s a big thing for the town and there are some incredible pieces to see.”
After the success of his playful piece Juxtapose at last year’s Light Up Poole, Bournemouth University graduate Ashley Wilkie has brought it back this year alongside the first showing of his new work Ebbs and Flows. An architectural projection mapping of Poole’s iconic Guildhall, it uses the sweeping double stairway as a backdrop to a journey across the world’s oceans.
Award winning light and sound artists Ross Ashton and Karen Monid of the Projection Studio are premiering their experimental immersive interior projection piece Zenith inside St James’s Church; simultaneously projecting another new work Horizon on the outside of the church. Produced in collaboration with NASA scientists and the Ordered Universe team, it was unveiled last month at Napa Lighted Art Festival in California and will be seen for the first time in Europe in Poole.
To support these ground breaking works Professors Giles Gasper (History) and Brian Tanner (Physics) from Durham University host Where Medieval Meets Modern, a community talk at Lighthouse on 23 February that will introduce the medieval scientist and thinker Robert Grosseteste whose ideas and research inform Horizon and Zenith.
Justin Hundley-Appleton, manager of Poole BID, the festival’s lead partner and sponsor, adds: “It’s incredibly exciting to have such high calibre artists in Poole premiering their work during the festival, and also for the science, technology and engineering companies to showcase cutting edge products for the first time.”
The other world premiere hosted by Light Up Poole is Sonic Tides, Karen Monid’s multi-channel audio installation in the ground of Scaplen’s Court. A unique translation of local research into sound it immerses listeners in soundscapes informed by the history of 16th century Poole.
The festival has also commissioned new work from teenage light artist Seren Birtles, who made her debut at last year’s first festival. A nest of plastic stretched from floor to ceiling with projected light inspired by the ocean, Eyrie invites the audience to consider how mankind places itself above other species in the name of consumption and possession.
Seren is one of the local artists selected for GLEAM, the Audacious talent development programme for regional light artists, and the company has also produced the community event Tidal Remedies for this year’s festival in which visitors are invited to share soup and have a chat in a pop-up street café on the High Street.
“This year we have set out to showcase how technology can enhance art and make it more accessible to audiences,” says Libby Battaglia of Audacious. “With artists working alongside scientists, engineers and academics we hope Light Up Poole is something the town can be really proud of, that enchants local audiences and attracts lots of people to visit and discover for themselves.”
* There are further opportunities for local people to get involved in Light Up Poole as volunteer stewards to work with the Culture Volunteers from Poole Museum. It’s helpful but not essential to have some experience of arts events and to be enthusiastic about public engagement in the arts. To find out more email email@example.com.