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Three Floating Forms at St John’s Church

Being involved in Light Night was a great project to work on and having only recently completed an MA in visual arts the opportunity to take part in a major arts festival was something I didn’t want to miss.

My work, entitled, Three Floating Forms, was based on the theme of circus.  As I researched into this theme, which I did mainly by watching films of aerialists performing at circuses and training schools, I became fascinated by the various suspension ‘mechanisms’ that form such an integral part of high-wire acts.  What caught my attention the most was not so much what the performer was doing but how the complex array of wires, ropes and swathes of cloth they work with was reacting to the movement of the body.

I wanted to capture this hidden world on film and combine it with the area I am exploring as an artist.  My work stems from an interest in the forms and structures of film representation within the modern film theatre and the notion of film as sculpture.

The place in which a work will be situated is a major component of my practice and this is why the possibility of creating an installation specifically for St John the Evangelist held such appeal.

The piece of work I developed takes the form of a triptych of sculptural forms which, like the aerial nature of the subject matter, are suspended.  Films of aerialists performing with the trapeze, aerial silk and aerial hoop are projected down onto the sculptures.   Each form comprises two sheets of silvered perspex in the shape of a ‘T’, a flat horizontal plane acting as a screen whilst an intersecting vertical column underneath carries the projected image purely as light.  To varying degrees the aerialists are almost entirely removed from the films leaving behind a ‘choreography’ of cloth, rope and hoop.  As a result the moving imagery simultaneously exists as both film and in real space as sculptural form.

My original intention was to hang the work from large wooden beams that span the length of the chancel however due to various structural concerns St John’s were unable to grant permission to do this.  The suspension aspect of the work was a vital component to its success and for a time it seemed unlikely that I would be able to realise the work after all.  However through liaising closely with the church, who were enormously helpful in bringing the work to life, an alternative solution was found which in the end came as close as possible to my original vision.

The tremendous reaction from the public to the work on Light Night, when more than a thousand visitors came to see it, was entirely due to a team effort and, as such, I would like to thank everyone who was involved.

David Bridges

Four Months in the Life of a Festival Producer

I’ve been working on Light Night Leeds as Project Manager since June 2013. I knew I was taking on a big challenge in a short timescale with just two months to select over 50 art projects and just over three months to deliver the festival!

I’m a freelance festival producer; so working within a City Council instead of small arts organisations was going to be a new learning experience. Before Light Night, I’d worked on NVA’s Speed of Light at Salford Quays, WE PLAY Expo, the North West’s Closing Celebrations for the Olympics and as General Manager/Producer of FutureEverything, which delivers an annual festival of art, music and ideas around emerging technologies. The next project after Light Night, is as Producer of IOU, an international arts organisation based in Halifax. So learning about the bureaucracies of City Council life along with the ever-changing challenges and pressures of festival delivery was going to be interesting!

Light Night works on the basis that artists and artist groups or organsiations can apply to become part of the festival. The city council has a small budget that covers materials, venues, marketing costs, H&S, logistics and other support. Major art organisations like to be involved in Light Night because it’s a chance to show their work to new audiences. Emerging and established art groups like to be involved because they get an opportunity to show their work in unusual places. I’ve also discovered that people love Light Night! The atmosphere has been described as similar to bonfire night. Warm, fun and family friendly.

Light Night is a European wide initiative, which started in Paris in 2002, and aims to shine a different light on a city at night. It’s about audiences seeing their public buildings and spaces in a different way and for the city to give something back so all events are free. Light Night help generate civic pride and a sense of place so that people can be proud of their city. It also enhances the night time offer of business and culture.

The greatest revelation has been working with a dedicated team who are excellent! Light Night is just one project for them throughout the year but they have responded remarkably well to the geeky systems I’ve implemented that help manage multiple projects over a short time period. As a producer, my ethos is to make the festival experience the best it can be for everyone including artists, audiences, staff, volunteers, venues and partners. With limited resources, the only way to do this is through tried and tested streamlined systems, which collect masses of information, quickly and effectively.

Working within a council you often have to use their resources, whereas working for smaller arts organisations you choose who you work with. For Light Night this included working with an in house designer. Anyone that works in the creative industries knows that the design process can be joyful and exciting or painful and disappointing! It’s a time-bound task and sometimes the ideas just don’t flow or represent the different messages. In this instance, the designer managed to take complex information and make it cool, family friendly and contemporary, as well as digestible and easy to follow. Anyone in the game knows that is no mean feat.

In the festival cycle, there are peaks and troughs so it’s usually beneficial to have ‘seasoned’ festival workers on your team! There are pinch points, which can really get to you. Finalising a key piece of print is a good example of this. You rely on over 50 arts organisations to get information to you at a set time. Delays in the process can create a massive knock on in the workload. I don’t think I’ve ever worked on one festival in thirteen years where producing a festival programme hasn’t been all-absorbing. In this instance and unbelievably, we set a deadline and met it. The programme came out with 5 weeks to go and believe me, we all deserve medals. Getting that beautiful piece of print out meant we had 5 weeks to deliver the ‘operations’ or the nuts and bolts of a live festival. Pure luxury!

Top tip for producing a festival: Plan as much as you can in advance. Be meticulous and geeky, because once the festival starts, for those behind the scenes, that’s usually days and weeks before it’s open to the public, you can’t stop it, a bit like giving birth! It’s always worth remembering, though, and it’s a cliché, the show goes on, so it’s not worth losing sleep over!

Come and join us! Dress up as a pineapple or see the cultural sights as a ‘veggie’ runner. Watch the city’s buildings get transformed into magical clocks and artworks; witness aerialists in the sky and 20 drummers drumming. Find dancing shadows on Millennium Square or see your city through the eyes of a teenager. Enjoy intimate theatre that makes you question your hands, or let the domestic god that is the fridge draw out warm prose and the poet in you. Volunteering opportunities still available ;).

Joanne Wain (Light Night Project Manager)

Children’s Activities at Light Night

If you are interested in Children’s events here is a suggested route that you can take.

Most Light Night events across the city are family friendly, but for 2013 we have also increased the number of Children’s Activities. Starting at Millennium Square, families can enjoy the spectacular light installation ‘Momentous’ and then find out more about their favourite author with the Anthony Browne’s picture book exhibition at Leeds City Museum. The young and the young at heart can step through the magic mirror to enter Anthony’s family home, explore the forest where Hansel and Gretel and The Tunnel can be found, or visit the life-size Gorilla in the Zoo.

Over at the Town Hall kids can run away to the Circus with Emma Gee’s ‘DIY Circus’, where the Little Top and all the usual circus characters will help you perform your act. Meanwhile, in Leeds Libraries, you can make your own unique clown costumes, or enjoy storytelling with a circus theme, while on Victoria Gardens the young ones can have a go at digital spray painting straight onto Leeds Art Gallery with Garforth Arts Festival!

At The Light shopping centre, drop into Arts & Minds ‘Love Arts Big Top’ and help create a ‘big top’ with a giant fabric mural that stretches up to the roof. If it’s performance your young ones want, toddle down to Briggate for Urban Angel Circus’ ‘Human Sect’, where circus skills and aerial spectacle are fused with beautiful choreography as luminous insects are suspended from the circle in the sky.

In Trinity Shopping Centre take a sneaky peek at Left Bank Leeds ‘The Narnia Experience Taster’ and visit Mr Tumnus house and the many creatures that live in Narnia. Over the road at the Corn Exchange, if your little ones are interested in all things robotic, then Playful Leeds’ ‘March of the Robots’ is the place for you, where they can design and construct awesome cardboard bots. Finally, at Northern Ballet and Phoenix Dance, children can explore light and movement in a fun, multi-sensory space while searching for ‘The Lost Luna Moon’ to round off the night.

Most Children’s Activities finish slightly earlier than 10pm, please see the downloadable programme for details.

Volunteers and Projects

Light Night is looking for volunteers! There are a number of different roles available and the deadline for applications is the 20th August, you can find the details of how to apply on the Get Involved page.

Applications for projects have closed and successful projects are getting started on their planning. The full programme will be revealed nearer the time….watch this space…

Momentous Projection

Spectacular projection to transform Leeds Civic Hall into a magical animated mechanical clock.

From the Leeds Inspired Blog

A large scale projection is to transform the entire façade of Leeds Civic Hall into a vast, animated mechanical clock. Commissioned by Leeds Inspired, ‘Momentous’ builds on the rich history of renowned Leeds clockmaker William Potts and will take place from 3rd – 5th October 2013, forming a centrepiece of the city’s ‘Light Night’ celebrations on 4th October.

‘Momentous’ takes its inspiration from Potts clocks, some of which feature clockwork people. They were designed to capture the attention of the public and create a shared moment when they chimed the time, on the hour and each quarter hour. The Civic Hall projection will be created by Illuminos artists Matt and Rob Vale.  They will create a huge version of these automaton clocks, bringing the building to life.  They will use video footage and photographs of Leeds people going about their daily lives to transform the clock face every 15 minutes. ’Momentous’ will colourfully animate the Civic Hall.  The architecture, windows and columns will form elements of the clock, with cogs, levers and pulleys whirring and rising.  In front of the building, on Millennium Square, will sit a large-scale winding mechanism. The public will be invited to wind the handle and the weights and balances on the building will respond, rising upward in preparation for the quarter hour chime.

Leeds Inspired are calling on the people of Leeds to get involved to help create this imaginative new artwork. The artists will be filming at pop-up locations across the city throughout the summer. To register interest in being filmed for this large scale projection, either as a group or individual, please email hello@leedsinspired.co.uk

Clocktower Tours

Clock Tower Tour - credit David Lindsay

If you want to have a clocktower tour before Light Night then we offer tours on the last Monday of every month at 11:30am and 2:30pm (20th May, 24th June, 29th July), and on the last Saturday of the month at 10:30am (25th May, 29th June, 27th July).

Tours also include the Victorian cells, courtroom and Victoria Hall. Tickets are £4 and you can book by calling the City Centre Box Office on 0113 2243801