With as many as 40,000 visitors enjoying three nights of extraordinary digital light art spectacles the second Light Up Poole festival has been hailed a “giant leap” forward
“It has been wonderful, far beyond anything we could have hoped for,” says Libby Battaglia of festival directors Audacious.
“Last year we showed how enthusiastically the people of Poole and beyond embraced accessible, interactive and immersive art for everyone, but this year’s programme has been a giant leap forward in terms of its international reach and creative energy.”
Sponsored by Poole BID and funded by Arts Council England, Light Up Poole worked with Napa Lighted festival in California to co-commission artists Ross Ashton and Karen Monid to make the Horizon projection. Shown on the outside of St James’s Church it featured exclusive imagery from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and drew large and appreciative crowds each night.
“It was great to see art bringing places and people together,” says Ross. “Our installations at St James’s Church were very well received. The church really got on board and it was a pleasure to be part of community if only for a few days. The event was so well attended and full of people and families of all ages. A really excellent atmosphere. Thanks to Light Up Poole for creating an excellent event.”
Inside St James’s the artists’s atmospheric, meditative Zenith enthralled young and old alike, as did Karen Monid’s startling immersive sound installation Sonic Tides in Scaplen’s Court Garden.
She says: “Poole has a very rich and long history and it was very special to be asked to create Sonic Tides for Scaplen’s Court Garden. It is such a beautiful atmospheric place and to see so many people really connect with the sounds of 16th century Poole surrounding them in the garden, in candlelight, was a truly unique experience. Everybody we met made Ross and I feel so welcome, it has been a delight to premiere our new works in Poole.”
Justin Hundley-Appleton, manager of Poole BID, the festival’s lead partner and sponsor, estimates some 40,000 visitors passed through Poole over the three nights. He says: “This year’s festival has been absolutely fantastic. It’s great to see how much the event has grown since 2018 and that’s all down to Libby’s enthusiasm for the project. Poole had a fantastic weekend of footfall and the feedback we’ve received so far has been really positive. We’re really looking forward to seeing how Light Up Poole grows into 2020.”
On the dockside, Harbour Glow by Poole-based light designer James Smith and Audacious working with French engineers MinuitUne and local company Wolf Lighting mesmerised crowds. Andy McKeown’s WeatherMACHINE at Dolphin Quay flats invited visitors to play in the rain without ever getting wet and the same artist’s StarGate by the Town Cellars reflected the faces of those who watched in a vertical water surface filtered through continuously moving liquid oil projections.
On the High Street the Elixir Circus Arts stilt walkers Celestial Beings chatted and played, while Gijs van Bon’s tidal light writer Nyx wrote poetry on the streets of the Old Town and The Photon Shop, by Photonics and Astronomy students from the University of Southampton, invited the public to assist astronomers with research.
Libby Battalgia adds: “Light Up Poole set out to bring a unique combination of Art, Science and Technology to the streets of Poole and because the festival is artist-led we were able to present some fantastic contributions this year that have really struck a chord with people. One university professor told us he had brought his 101-year-old grandmother and his two-year-old nephew – can you think of many other things both could have enjoyed together? Amazing.” Students from Bournemouth and Southampton universities, Arts University Bournemouth, Poole College and local schools were able to showcase a range of work at Light Up Poole and in the town’s first Light Art Symposium – Artists, Industry & Community – artists and agencies were able to explore creative and commercial possibilities with Poole’s tourism, business and technology communities.