LIGHT UP POOLE 21-23 February

LIGHT UP POOLE 21-23 February

Transforming Poole’s familiar townscape after dark with an ambitious programme of more than twenty light art spectacles that respond to the theme of ‘Tides’, next month’s Light Up Poole is set to make an international statement.


Sponsored by Poole BID and funded by Arts Council England, the three-night festival of light incorporates three world premieres and a European premiere as well as site responsive versions of works by leading European artists such as Gijs Van Bon’s poetry robot NYX, Tom Dekyvere’s treetop Rhizome installation and the Celestial Beings illuminated stilt walkers of Elixire Circus Arts. 

French engineers MinuitUne will provide revolutionary new technology and work with Poole-based Wolf Lighting to illuminate the dockside cranes and create Harbour Glow, a bold new work by light designers James Smith and Audacious that shows the urban industrial space of the Harbour in a new light.

But the festival’s global vision is most apparent in Horizon, a signature projection by artists Ross Ashton and Karen Monid on the outside of St James’s Church that has resulted from their partnership with Napa Lighted Art Festival in California. Horizon juxtaposes medieval texts by 13th century English polymath Robert Grosseteste and 21st century imagery from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to illustrate how the things we can and cannot see shape the extent of our knowledge.

‘We’re very proud to have built this link between Poole and Napa and we really hope both festivals will be able to extend connections from one country to another – especially in the light of what’s going on at the moment with Brexit,’ says Ross.

A key part of this year’s festival is a Light Art Symposium led by Bournemouth University to consider creative and commercial opportunities presented by cultural events, such as their contribution to the regeneration of places by developing cultural tourism out of season. 

Justin Hundley-Appleton, Poole BID manager, says: “It’s great to see Light Up Poole returning for 2019 after last year’s event was well received by everyone and certainly encouraged participation. There are some really interesting installations in store for this year’s event that we’re looking forward to seeing come to life.”

As well as artists of international standing, Light Up Poole also showcases emerging artists and students from Bournemouth and Southampton universities and Arts University Bournemouth, as well as Poole schools. A cornerstone of the festival’s programming is to challenge and inspire young people’s creativity.

“We are showing work by world class artists as well as young local practitioners so there are clues here for young people who feel the creative urge but wonder what their futures might look like,” says Libby Battaglia of festival directors Audacious.

With the launch of the festival’s new GLEAM Talent Development Programme, Light Up Poole now offers a direct progression route for emerging and local artists, connecting them to industry.

Teenage light artist Seren Birtles was commissioned on the success of her first installation shown at last year’s festival as part of her A-level Art at Blandford School. This year she is being mentored by new media light and sound artist, animator and programmer Andy McKeown from Wild Strawberry and will show a new piece called Eyrie in St James’s Church Hall. 

In addition there’s a Young Film Makers competition, student showcase exhibitions and the return of the phenomenally popular Silent Disco.

Among the many highlights of Light Up Poole 2019 are:

Rhizome – Belgian artist Tom Dekyvere’s light installation in the tree space on Orchard Plaza uses sound and vision as metaphors for nature and technology.

Horizon – Award winning British artists Ross Ashton and Karen Monid map the outside of St James’s Church with images and sounds to tell the story of how humankind has always reached beyond what it can see to answer questions about its very existence. European premiere.

Zenith – Ross Ashton and Karen Monid play with the physics of light in a dynamic illumination of the inside of St James’s Church. World premiere.

Eyrie – This projection mapping by teenage light artist Seren Birtles in St James’s Church Hall is her first professional commission, the result of her showing at last year’s inaugural Light Up Poole.

Ebbs and Flows – Bournemouth University graduate Ashley Wilkie has been commissioned to make this architectural projection mapping on the Guildhall.

Weather Machine – Wild Strawberry’s hugely popular creation where audiences interact, dance and play with projected seasons and props at Dolphin Quay.

Harbour Glow – A moving light installation by James Smith and Audacious will illuminate the dockside cranes using cutting edge technology by MinuitUne.

Sonic Tides – World premiere of this immersive multi-channel soundscape project by Karen Monid will invoke the sounds of 16th century Poole in the lit garden at Scaplen’s Court. World premiere.

NYX – Amsterdam artist Gijs Van Bron’s poetry robot leaves words in its wake as it travels a loop around the Old Town and Quay.

Tidal Remedies – A characteristically ambitious community conversation piece by Audacious in which people who have not necessarily met before are invited to sit down over a cup of soup and have conversations around topics that emerge from workshops, discovery walks and interviews conducted by Dorset artist Gemma Aldred.  World premiere.


* There are further opportunities for local people to get involved in Light Up Poole as volunteer stewards to work with the Culture Volunteers from Poole Museum. It’s helpful but not essential to have some experience of arts events and to be enthusiastic about public engagement in the arts. To find out more email