Illuminate Light Festival

Illuminate 2017 by Dom Moore

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    Royal William Yard, Plymouth

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Illuminate, a spectacular light festival that connects the Mayflower 400 destinations across the UK and internationally, returned to the historic Royal William Yard for four days in November 2018.

The festival offered an immersive experience, with projections and light installations set out across the Yard, live performances and opportunities for audiences to interact with the works.

Illuminate 2018 featured international artists including Xavi Bové and Thomas Voillaume. Performed live Bové’s piece, ‘Visual Songs’ allowed visitors to conduct virtual brushes to create their own personalised artwork, which they could print and take home with them afterwards. Voillaume brought ‘Human’, a sculpture of a humanoid form that light and video was projected onto. The light gave the sculpture emotions and revealed its history, blurring the lines between reality and hallucination.

Also new was the use of water screen technology, as artists experimented with projecting onto the sea as well as land. Other artists creating installations included Mark Parry, Jamie Knight, 1000 Errors, Josh Small and Effervescent, as well as University of Plymouth graduates Juliet Middleton-Batts and Paige Alexander

Phil Power, Associate Professor in BA (Hons) Fine Art exhibited his piece involving the iconic grey Stothert and Pitt’s cranes at the Yard, alongside three current fine art students at the festival. While Associate Lecturer in Media Arts Rachael Allain's piece, 'Epipelagic Drifters', highlighted the importance of plankton for the wellbeing of the environment, and the impact of marine plastic on the oceans. It featured voice-overs from leading marine researchers at the University.

Illuminate was free to attend and there were plenty of interactive workshops to get involved in, both during and in the lead-up to the festival.

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Today's events

“Light Festivals around the world create wonderfully vibrant and engaging social events for cities and their citizens to enjoy. They are a fantastic display of a city’s creativity and a great, fun, family event that gives people something to look forward to during the dark winter months. 
We are excited to be able to show off some of the region’s excellent creative talent, and excited that so many of our artists this year have links with the University and the other institutions in the city. Something to be really proud of!”

Chris Bennewith, Head of School of Art, Design and Architecture, festival steering group member and part of the internationally renowned art and design collective working with light – Squidsoup

<p>Royal William Yard lit up for the Illuminate Light Festival</p>
<p>Illuminate Light Festival 2017</p>
<p>

Illuminate Light Festival 2017<br></p>
<p>Illuminate Light Festival 2017<br></p>

Featured artist – Juliet Middleton-Batts

<p>Juliette Middleton-Batts<br></p>
<p>Light Box #2 by Juliet Middleton-Batts</p>

Juliet Middleton-Batts | Illuminating invisible histories

A desire to look beyond the surface and uncover forgotten or invisible histories of people and place fuels the work of BA (Hons) Fine Art and MA Contemporary Art Practice graduate Juliet Middleton-Batts.

Juliet has exhibited in London and the South West and her site-specific installations have been presented in some unusual spaces, including a lighthouse, slaughterhouse, and a telephone box.

After showcasing 'Light Box' – an installation that referenced maternal transference and the concept of women as keepers of history and custodians of the past – at the 2017 festival, Juliet was thrilled to return once more this year.

“Illuminate 2017 was a fantastic light festival for Plymouth and I was delighted to have my work included in such a high-profile event. Illuminate 2018 promises to be even bigger and better and I am very excited to be showing a new piece of work, but in the same venue – the old red telephone box outside Ocean Studios.”

Juliet's 'Light Box #2' was an installation in the vintage telephone box outside Ocean Studios at the Royal William Yard. It celebrated two nostalgic icons of communication and humanity in Plymouth.

Illuminating invisible histories – discover more about Juliet in our featured alumni case study.

Featured artist – Paige Alexander

<p>Paige Alexander</p>
<p>Work created by Paige Alexander for Illuminati 2017</p>

Paige Alexander | The wonder of colour

Inspired by colour, Paige's work examines connections between architecture and site-specific installations, allowing viewers to experience her work and impart their own emotions towards a particular installation or painting.

“My main motives for my art are the wonders of colour, the visual language that is processed before we are consciously aware of it. I love to question the ability of colour and it’s impact on us. Colour allows me to focus on the ever-changing projections, colour is an element of visual language that is processed before we are consciously aware of it.”


Paige graduated from Plymouth with a BA (Hons) Fine Art. Her work 'Ray of Light (Part one)' – which focused on ever-changing projections of light – was showcased at her final degree show, while part two featured at last year's Illuminate festival.

Now as a graduate, Paige was delighted to return to the Illuminate festival this year to present her latest installation.

Experience the wonder of colour – discover more about Paige and her colourful works in our featured alumni case study.

Fine art students’ work lights up festival

Experience Bethany Thomas’ animated ‘I Hope They Remember You’, which makes us consider how we want to be remembered. Eliza Newman’s light and sound installation, ‘Our Journey’, focuses on sensual responses when sharing a physical experience. While Jaydan Alexander’s installation ‘Iridescent’ features a front bumper of a car with headlights resting upon the top, as if the car is coming out of the space around it.

Alongside these current BA (Hons) Fine Art students, Phil Power, Associate Professor in Fine Art, also exhibited a piece involving the Yard’s Stothert and Pitt’s cranes, as part of his work to turn spaces into places.

Find out more about their work at the festival

‘Our Journey’ by Eliza Newman

Rachael Allain | 'Epipelagic Drifters'

Rachael Allain – Plymouth's Associate Lecturer in Fine Art and Media Arts – showcased her experimental film 'Epipelagic Drifters' at the festival.

Rachael was commissioned to create a site responsive film installation which reveals the extraordinary invisible microcosm of planktonic life through microscopic imaging techniques. She collected data, with expert guidance from Senior Technician in Marine Biology, Richard Ticehurst, from the body of water that is Plymouth Sound.

The film highlights the importance of plankton for the wellbeing of the environment and the impact of marine plastic on the oceans, as well as celebrating the watery wonders of Britain’s Ocean City.

Rachael recorded sound from under the water, alongside audio recordings from world leading marine science experts on their research, including Professor Richard Thompson, OBE – the world leader in microplastic research – Abigail McQuatters-Gollop and Imogen Napper, all from the University.

Additionally, as part of the BA (Hons) Media Arts Independent Practice module, Rachael has worked with Associate Lecturer Tim Mills and students Rebecca Brown, Sira Eriksen, Harry Foreman, Danielle Knight, Rufus Scott and Phoebe Summers to develop a response around the themes of Rachael’s work and Illuminate. The results of this module will be shown as a film alongside Rachael’s work in Ocean Studios.

Countdown to Mayflower 400

The festival builds on the core values of Mayflower 400, which include freedom, humanity, imagination and future. 

The event was delivered by Made in Plymouth CIC – a collaboration between RIO, Plymouth College of Art, the University of Plymouth and Plymouth Culture – with support from Urban Splash, Plymouth City Council and Visit Plymouth. The University is proud to be an event partner of Illuminate. 

Visit the Illuminate Festival website for all the latest news.

“As one small candle may light a thousand, so the light here kindled has shown unto many.”

– Governor William Bradford of Plimoth Plantation

Study fine art at Plymouth

Fine art at the University of Plymouth offers a unique opportunity for you to follow your own path through a range of subject areas and forms of expression. We offer a broad-based programme of study at undergraduate and postgraduate levels at the cutting edge of contemporary art practice.

Studio practice lies at the core of this, alongside the development of theoretical and research skills, underpinned by international trips, regular exhibitions, open studios and a talks programme of visiting artists, curators and critics.

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