The "Absence" of Lighting

It seems that many of us haven’t done a full week in the office for quite some time! Fresh off the plane from Frankfurt after a busy few days at Light + Building 2016, a few of us dusted ourselves off and took part in this year’s Ready Steady Light at Rose Bruford College, Sidcup.

For those that don’t know, Ready Steady Light is a competition put on by the Society of Light and Lighting each year, with both professionals and students alike taking part. This year saw practices and colleges make up 14 teams, all with their sights set on three trophies for awards in Technical Performance, Artistic Inspiration and the ever-coveted Peer Prize.

The basic premise of the event is simple: teams are given a small area of Rose Bruford’s leafy campus, a selection of six light fittings and a power hook-up. Then, with a dash of creativity and a few hours of human power, some of the most ad hoc lighting installations the country has seen are judged accordingly.

We were given a difficult site – it amounted to a large expanse of grass, a few trees and A LOT of bushes. But, never shy of a challenge, and with a minimal amount of bird bothering, team Nulty set about designing and building an installation called “Absence”.

Ready Steady Light 2016 Before Lighting Installation Team Nulty

Absence was born through the discovery of a hollow in the bushes, and a tall tree sitting at the back, providing a mast and beacon to the area. This became the central focus of the design, and by chance of having a red luminaire and some time to experiment with filters, the tree was bathed in red light, as was the hollow itself, in a second, low level layer of light.

To add a twist to the day, light fittings were tradable at the “Swap Shop”. We bravely sent off half the team with some lights to exchange, and waited anxiously for their return. Well, as anxious as you can get with a beer in your hand!

Ready Steady Light 2016 Lighting Kit Inspection Team Nulty

When they returned after a traumatic experience of stressed designers despairing at the selection, we pulled together for another brainstorming session. We wanted to add depth to the scene, and build the narrative, which at that moment had one red tree. Lots of chatting back and forth and some rather silly ideas later, it dawned on us that the red uplighting tree was a symbol for a central figure in flames, burning and dying. This gave us the founding needed to add floodlighting to the bushes outside the hollow, with green filters to emphasise the youthfulness of the plants and a refreshing contrast to the tree.

Ready Steady Light 2016 Landscape Lighting Installations Team Nulty

Job done, we wandered around the site admiring (and critiquing!) the other designs on offer. There was a consistently high standard throughout the teams and we knew the competition would be tough – especially the Peer Prize. We handed in the names of our favourite lighting installations and headed into the hall to find out the results. Unfortunately, the Nulty team didn’t manage to win anything BUT it was a fun experience and we had a super time (helped, of course, by the beers).

The gallery below shows more about the development of our installation and some competitors’ designs too!

Blog post by Rebecca Hodge