Residents of Poole flats will be turning their block into an art gallery as part of the Light Up Poole festival of digital light art that opens on Thursday (20 February) and runs until Saturday.
The collaborative community project at Drake Court in Lagland Street is part of the nationwide Window Wanderland scheme to transform ordinary streets by encouraging residents to create art installations and display them in their windows after dark with the lights on.
In Poole the residents of Drake Court have been inspired by the Light Up Poole festival theme ‘Spectrum’ to look at the wildlife of Brownsea Island and Europe’s largest natural harbour. The National Trust invited residents to Brownsea to spot the rare red squirrels and learn more from the island rangers while family workshops at Dorset Scrapstore enabled residents to create light art displays to be exhibited during the festival.
"Our trip to Brownsea Island was very enjoyable and the hospitality second to none, with refreshments to set us up ready for a very informative guided tour,” says event co-ordinator Kasia Smith. “We were able to wander and take in the views, wildlife and fauna and were lucky enough to see a red squirrel and peacocks. I am sure this will inspire me for my artwork.”
Last year’s Light Up Poole brought 40,000 people out on to the streets after dark to experience a series of light art installations in the Old Town, Quay and High Street. As well as newly commissioned work by international artists this year’s festival has an even stronger emphasis on participatory community engagement projects.
The Community Chandelier in the Fish Shambles on Poole Quay will find people filling jars with coloured water to place on a frame with a light inside producing ever-changing combinations of light and colour in the darkness; while visitors can also contribute to the contemplative fire garden What Do You Have Faith In? by fire artists AndNow: at St James’s Church.
Belgian artist Tom Dekyvere is unveiling his new collaborative project, The People’s Florist, in the Thistle Hotel car park. Working with many different communities he is giving people a canvas on which to create their own work.
“This is the first time ever this concept is being set up so Poole is the starting point of a new story,” says Tom. “The idea is to find people from the local community who are unaware of their own talent and to honour their talents by giving them a sponsored canvas. This perhaps should be categorised as ‘Way beyond being a so-called artist’.”
Libby Battaglia. of Light Up Poole producers Audacious, believes this community activity lies at the heart of what the festival is about.
“Projects like these demonstrate that art is for everyone,” she says. “Light Up Poole offers creative opportunities for people of all ages, races, religions and capabilities to have a go and contribute.
“The festival is a partnership between the artists and Poole, its people, its history and its future. For centuries people have been drawn to the light and that’s exactly what happens in February in Poole when tens of thousands of people come out of their homes and experience something moving and magical together under the lights.”
As well as the light art installations, Light Up Poole also supports a programme of talks at Lighthouse, Poole’s centre for the arts, with guest speakers including TV historian Dr Janina Ramirez; 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; and Cressida Granger, MD of Poole-based Mathmos, inventors of the original lava lamp in 1963.
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 in a talk entitled ‘Sex and Drugs and Overload’ that is illuminated by The Projection Studio’s architectural mapping piece, Victorian Speed of Light, being shown on the Guildhall.
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.