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Enlighten Manchester

Issue 83 February / March 2015

Held in December last year, Enlighten Manchester was a pilot festival devised and delivered by Curated Place along with city-wide partners to show how artists and musicians can transform a city centre.

Enlighten Manchester Festival, delivered by Curated Place, was an experimental pilot featuring nine lighting installations across Manchester’s city centre that resonated with the public as a project that was both popularist and accessible, while maintaining its artistic legitimacy.

Despite unforgiving weather conditions over the three day period, the final day allowed all of the planned installations, designed by seven international artists and lighting designers, to enlighten Manchester Art Gallery, department store Debenhams, City Tower and seven separate pieces within public square Picadilly Gardens - with Andrew Brooks’ Immersion and Elissa Artesero’s A Solid Wish Scatters marked as public favourites.

Funded by the Arts Council, Curated Place’s Director Andy Brydon described Enlighten Manchester as a festival aimed at engaging the public by activating public spaces into something other than they currently are, a vision which was particularly aimed at Picadilly Gardens The festival was a culmination of the cycle of support from the Nordic Council that previously secured Curated Place’s production of Reykjavik’s Winter Light Festival and Torshavn’s Nordic House.

Brydon described the Piccadilly site as “very difficult, it’s so open, there’s no experience of discovery when you move around it.” There was no infrastructure or nature to disguise the mechanics of the project as in the Scandinavian locations, where trees were used to hide cables. Working with an arts budget of £35k posed further challenges also, in that “we didn’t expect there to be quite such a lack of infrastructure, so we had to bring all the power ourselves with the help of the City Council,” continued Brydon.

Chris Lowe of lighting design practice BDP, who worked on the Manchester Art Gallery installation, told mondo*arc of the reliance on favours from manufacturers donating kit in order to complete the project.

Brydon and Lowe agree that the support from the Arts Council “legitimates architectural work and lighting work as an art form. That’s the real power, because they locate what we’re doing,” they both told mondo*arc.

Following the festival, Manchester Art Gallery’s position facing St Peter’s Square - opposite the Central Library is a space Curated Place wishes to expand the festival into in the future. The group also aims to house more works indoors, implementing a light, sound, art and music programme by developing a new partnership with the library and working more with the gallery, as the transition from outdoor to indoor space offers more points of discovery than an empty public square. What is needed for the festival to expand in the future, according to Brydon, is more planning time and a larger amount of support from commercial partners. The next six months will be spent fundraising in order to achieve something more adventurous for 2015 within the framework of an international event that’s relevant.

ARTIST: Andrew Brooks
LIGHTING DESIGNERS: Nick Malbon with Heidrun Kelly

Brooks takes people on a tour of the city from the noisy bustling streets to the peaceful rooftops of Manchester’s highest towers in a new projection environment of his photography from gallery walls to an outdoor space. Created in collaboration with Curated Place and Lighting Designer Nick Malbon, featuring a new composition by Welsh composer Jack White, the ultimate aim was to allow audiences a way of interacting with Brooks’ images that focus on the clarity and quality of the experience and image over and above an encounter with digital technology.

A Solid Wish Scatters
ARTIST: Elisa Artesero
LIGHTING: Piccadilly Live

A Solid Wish Scatters is a subtle intervention of light responding to the concrete of its surroundings. The words reflect up onto the famous concrete wall in Piccadilly Gardens. The earthly presence of the blocks scatter into an ephemeral light piece to show all that is solid is still fragile and all that is perceived to be permanent never will be.

Catch Me Now
ARTIST: Tine Bech
LIGHTING: Picadilly Live

A unique interactive spotlight, which plays with the audience. A small spotlight moves randomly around on its own until the audience steps into the light, when the light stops and opens up to the user in a play of light via a variety of programmable motion cues. The focus is moved to the audience, the playful light when caught grows, enabling the person to step into the light and take centre stage, encouraging participation and possibilities for play and performance.

Wind in the Willows
ARTIST: Ulf Pedersen
SUPPLIERS: Fossil Optical

Using vintage projectors from Pink Floyd’s projection rig, Pedersen created a new vision for the Tadao Ando wall at Picadilly Gardens.

City Tower
ARTIST: Ulf Pedersen
SUPPLIERS: Fossil Optical

An abstraction of nature inspired by Nordic wildlife, supported by City Tower.

Manchester Art Gallery
LIGHTING DESIGNERS: Myrkraverk with Chris Lowe & Giorgos Kourtelis, BDP
SUPPLIERS: Philips, Mike Stoane Lighting, LED Linear

Chris Lowe and Giorgos Kourtelis of BDP, in collaboration with Icelandic designer Myrkraverk, transformed the exterior of Manchester Art Gallery’s historic building with a stunning light installation to bring people’s attention to the historic facade at night.


A Solid Wish Scatters


Manchester Art Gallery
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