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Connecting residents and visitors alike to the town’s culture and heritage, this year’s Light Up Poole festival of digital light art is reaching out to the wider community through an expanded programme of creative engagement projects.

For three nights from 20 to 22 February the town’s Quay, Old Town and High Street will be transformed after dark by digital light art, much of it newly commissioned, that addresses diversity in terms of age, faith, social exclusion and migration in response to the theme ‘Spectrum’.

“Light Up Poole brings people to Poole from near and far and places them among its buildings on streets that have witnessed nearly 800 years of human history,” says Libby Battaglia of festival directors Audacious. “By enabling the public to contribute to art as it is made we aim not only to delight and enthral our visitors, but also to reveal more about Poole and its surrounding area.”

Created by Poole-based lighting designer James Smith, The Community Chandelier at the Fish Shambles on Poole Quay is a sculptural installation sponsored by NFU Mutual Wessex in which members of the public are invited to fill jars with spectrum coloured water and place them on the frame with a light inside to produce endless, ever-changing combinations of light and colour in the darkness.

“As a local business NFU Mutual Wessex is delighted to be working with Light Up Poole on one of the centrepieces of this year’s community engagement programme,” says Simon Godding, Agent at the Wareham office of NFU Mutual Wessex. “The Community Chandelier is an amazing opportunity for the people of Poole and beyond to contribute to public art in the making at the Fish Shambles, the historic beating heart of the town’s fishing industry.”

Another festival partner, Siemens Mobility has been working with local schools on a project based on the traffic signals and controllers it makes at its Poole factory; while Lighthouse writer-in-residence Jack Thacker working with Wave Arts Education Agency is hosting poetry workshops this month (JAN) with primary school children to create work that celebrates the migration pattern of the osprey.

During the festival the poems will be shown at the quayside HQ of Birds of Poole Harbour, the conservation charity that is leading an osprey translocation project to restore a breeding population of ospreys in the south of England, while artist Michael Condron is using its work to create a sculpture of an osprey to be bathed in light and installed on Poole Quay.

After the festival it is hoped the osprey poems will be shared with partner schools in West Africa where the birds typically spend the winter.

The atmospheric gardens at St James’s Church will be home to What Do You Have Faith In?, a contemplative fire garden created by And Now: fire artists Mandy Dike and Ben Rigby that explores notions of faith and invites visitors to contribute to an evolving sculpture; while artist Mark Parry has given voice to two of Poole’s most marginalised communities in Sea Shells, a soundscape made using interviews with homeless people, and Sheltered in which Poole’s older residents talk about what shelter means to them.

Meanwhile, emerging artist Mig Burgess’s 1in4 explores mental health and wellbeing by using new sensor technology developed by Zetamotion, funded by Things Connected Bournemouth to create real time public feedback.

Lighthouse, Poole’s centre for the arts, is to host a series of talks supporting the Light Up Poole programme with speakers including TV historian Dr Janina Ramirez; Professor Mark McCaughrean, Senior Science Advisor at the European Space Agency; medieval history expert Professor Giles Gaspar from Durham University; Bournemouth-based lighting designer Michael Grubb on telling stories with light; Cressida Granger, MD of Mathmos and researchers from Oxford University’s Diseases of Modern Life Group compare how the Victorians coped with the impact of new technology with how we deal with it today.

Funded by Arts Council England and main sponsor Poole BID, with additional contributions from BCP Council and private businesses, Light Up Poole is now in its third year and is estimated to be worth around £1.6 million to the local economy.

Light Up Poole runs from Thursday 20 February until Saturday 22 February. Full details can be found at www.lightuppoole.co.uk

Published 14 January 2020