Illuminate 2021

Immersive light festival responds to COP26 and the international climate crisis with illuminated murals and interactive installations

Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod

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Published: 22 November 2021

This Article was Written by: Katie Hill - My Green Pod

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Main image: Plymouth College of Art student work at Illuminate 2019

This year’s Illuminate programme responds to COP26 and the international climate crisis with a thoughtful collection of beautiful work from local and national artists, including projection mapping, bioluminescent artwork, illuminated murals and interactive installations.

The spectacular immersive light festival includes a wide range of bookable events held until 28 November 2021 at Plymouth’s Royal William Yard and Market Hall.

‘Invisible Cities’

For this year’s iteration of the annual festival, coordinated by Real Ideas, Tom Milnes, a BA (Hons) Fine Art lecturer, has created a new version of his ‘Invisible Cities’ project for visitors to interact with in Market Hall.
 
Tom Milnes’s ‘Invisible Cities’ is a morphing and decaying virtual world where visitors can wander the canals of Venice, strewn with e-waste, watching videos of ecological wastelands and exploring a changing world that confronts the viewer with the fragile biological impacts of climate change.

Tom was commissioned as an Artist Fellow for Illuminate by Plymouth College of Art’s StudioLab for Embodied Media, a recently launched multidisciplinary team of artists, technologists and researchers who are collectively motivated to think about how society can approach the integration of biological and computational systems in a more sustainable and ethical way.

Tim is a key academic launching the new BA (Hons) Creative Technologies at Plymouth College of Art.

Artists respond to climate change

Five new art projects have also been created for the festival by current students in Animation and Games, Craft and Material Practices.

‘Plymouth College of Art has long been a champion of city-wide cultural events that galvanise our students’ creative skills in new ways and offer opportunities to give something back to communities around the city. We have a firm commitment to continuing to work collaboratively with cultural partners across Plymouth on the Illuminate festival, which consistently offers excellent opportunities for emerging and established artists. We are proud of the innovative, challenging and beautiful responses to climate change made by our students, staff and resident artists for this year’s festival.’

STEPHANIE OWENS
Head of Plymouth College of Art’s School of Arts + Media

Bookable event tickets are needed to visit Illuminate installations at Market Hall; the Illuminate installations across Ocean Studios in Royal William Yard are covered by a general attendance ticket. 

Art student innovations

Students from across Plymouth College of Art’s undergraduate and postgraduate courses were selected from open submissions as part of a competitive process to exhibit in Illuminate 2021.
 
MA Ceramics student Owen Rees is creating ‘The Glowing Outdoors’, a new ceramic installation. Second-year BA (Hons) Animation & Games students Leah Smale and Helena Bone are working together on a new projection-mapping project, ‘The Cycle of Destruction’; Alex Straw, Katie Bird and Tiffany Anderson are working together on ‘Whale, We’re Screwed’; Maximillian Rueth and Jack Polley are working together on ‘Mother Earth’; and Taylor-Paige Timmins is working on ‘Stop the Change with our Climate’.
 
A large number of the undergraduate students selected to contribute to Illuminate this year previously studied Plymouth College of Art’s A-level equivalent Pre-Degree courses or the college’s Foundation Diploma in Art & Design, showing the benefits of the extra years of specialist creative education.

‘Colours of the Future’

Young Arts students aged nine to 16 from Plymouth College will shine a light on the environmental crisis in ‘Colours of the Future’, set inside the windows of Market Hall.

Young Arts Clubs meet weekly on a Saturday morning and during holidays at Plymouth College of Art.

The students, from across the South West, have worked together to create their own version of stained glass from scrap plastics, highlighting their feelings and response to the climate crisis and the environmental problems that will be inherited by the next generation.

Visualising environmental data

Live environmental data captured by Smart Citizen sensors around Plymouth will be creatively visualised in an immersive installation at Market Hall from 18.00 on Friday 26 November, as part of a bookable discussion session asking ‘What new approaches can we take to manage the impact of changing weather patterns?’

Elizabeth Zahoui, guest speaker from Plymouth College of Art’s Smart Citizens Programme, will also attend the session.
 
Developed by Plymouth College of Art’s Smart Citizens Programme and local electronics expert Lee Nutbean, the custom-coded installation visualises the local environment (such as sun, clouds, rain and hills) by collating data collected by environmental sensors such as humidity, pollution levels, air temperature and barometric pressure from Plymouth and other cities around the world. 
 
The environmental data used to inform the installation is captured by sensors, known as Smart Citizen kits, installed across Plymouth and the globe.

Plymouth-based Smart Citizen kits were assembled and coded by local people during six-week training sessions led by the Smart Citizens Programme at Fab Lab Plymouth.

This activity is part of the iMayflower project and has been supported by The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, which funds the Cultural Development Fund administered by Arts Council England.

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