Illuminating a pool, pavilion and more...

When we received a call asking if we’d like to play a part in the inaugural LewesLight – Festival of Light we jumped (very high) at the chance, even though we’ve had a hectic few months here at Nulty. Both Paul and I have strong connections with Lewes – it’s where I grew up and Paul went to college. So, at the end of September, on a very wet and windy Monday evening, we travelled south to meet the team and see how we could help.

2015 is the UNESCO Year of Light and with this in mind a collection of like-minded people and organisations, headed by Graham Festenstein, got together to create the concept for the first festival – a celebration of light and lighting through culture, design, art, science and the environment. It was opened by the Mayor last Friday and ran over two days with over 500 visitors. Events included an exhibition, programme of talks (one of which was by Paul) and guided walks around the town to explore 12 light installations and projections.

We were given three main installation sites to focus our lighting design energy on: the Linklater Pavilion, Harvey’s Brewery and Pells Pool. Working with Phil Rose and the students from South Downs College we transformed each site through the power of light.

Exterior Lighting Linklater Pavilion Autumnal Colour Festival Of Light Nulty

First off the Linklater Pavilion. Home to The Railway Land Wildlife Trust this is an eco building that was the festival hub, housing the exhibition and talks. We had to make sure the approach and entrance was eye catching and welcoming for visitors while leaving the rest of the building unlit to minimise disturbance to local wildlife. With a sustainable ethos in mind we up-cycled the mirrored sections from our darc awards installation and created a reflective sculpture around the spiral staircase using autumnal colours. We played with the reflection of light on surrounding trees and guided visitors from the street through to the pavilion by lining the route with hundreds of glowing paper lanterns.

Now, the chance to light up a brewery – yes please! Harvey’s Brewery buildings and prominent chimney form an iconic view of Lewes so we wanted to celebrate the architectural detail of the buildings, designed by William Bradford a renowned brewery architect. Using a variety of tones from white through to amber light we brought out the beautiful quality of the buildings’ materials. Miles Jenner, Harvey’s head brewer and Master of the Worshipful Company of Brewers, chose the colour filter used to back light the windows – the wash of green light represented the colour of the hops inside. We really fell in love with the brewery and the beautiful craftsmanship shown in the machinery inside. And, let’s not forget the beer – there was no way we were lighting up a brewery without fully understanding its produce!

Blue Illuminated Swans Floating Pells Pool Festival Of Light Nulty

Lastly, Pells Pool is the oldest documented public freshwater pool in the UK and was the real swansong of the event. We’re guessing there was a right hullabaloo amongst the local swans on Lewes’s waterways as they had some new neighbours to contend with – life size illuminated tissue paper swans! Taking centre stage they floated gracefully on the water surrounded by a mass of illuminated balls, all framed with vibrant coloured light. The scene was set by a local youth music group called Starfish and with Harvey’s on tap to relax and enjoy the ambience, it was the perfect place to reflect on the evening.

Blue Light Exterior Pool Floating Balls Swans Festival Of Light Nulty

All the lights we used were loaned by iGuzzini, Meyer and Architainment – many thanks to them all and to Hector for giving up an evening to help us on site. However, the real stars of the show were the students from South Downs College, who worked tirelessly bringing the installations to reality in such a tight timeframe. They went above and beyond any college syllabus, particularly those who braved Pells’ freezing water trying to position the swans. Needless to say some of the funniest photos we have aren’t really publishable.

The whole event was just a taster of what can be achieved and we really hope that the LewesLight Festival will develop into one of the key dates in both the Lewes’s social and lighting industry calendar. And, last but not least, the icing on the cake for our team of lighting designers was to get a mention on the BBC website.

Images © James McCauley