Lighting up Poole

POOLE’s exciting digital light art festival, Light Up Poole, returns from 20th to 22nd February with three nights of extraordinary spectacles and community events that will transform the town and harbour after dark.

This year’s theme is Spectrum, with work focusing on diversity in terms of age, faith, social exclusion and migration.

More than 40,000 visitors experienced last year’s amazing displays. For this year’s second festival, Light Up Poole 2020 organisers are extending the light up time and expanding the programme with talks, workshops and ticketed events including a family rave.

The festival, which is funded by Poole’s BID business investment group and Arts Council England, showcases the work of local, emerging and international artists with newly created digital light art installations and projections and opportunities for visitors to make their own work.

Poole BID manager Ailsa Wilson is looking forward to this year’s events, after the success of the 2019 inaugural festival. She says: “Just walking down the High Street was a spine-tingling experience, seeing crowds of people who’d come from our community but also far and wide to be part of this inspiring event. Listening to the buzz and excitement in the street was a pure delight.”

“It’s about breaking down the barriers between art and science, adding an A for Art to the STEM subjects,” says Libby Battaglia of Audacious, the community interest company which organises Light Up Poole. “Many of our visitors are young people and their families so by fusing art, technology and innovation, Light Up Poole triggers curiosity about how art is presented and shows there are careers to be made in this field.”

Libby explains the Spectrum theme: “Light and colour both occur across a spectrum and so do human emotions so we are working with artists that address the full range – the physics of light as well as how it feels. Artists show us things we think are familiar in a new light.”

This year Light Up Poole is working with Poole Museum and new partners Mathmos, inventors of the lava lamp and based in Poole since 1963, whose designers will unveil a lava lamp window installation and lounge in the Museum during the festival weekend.

Other community partners include Poole-based Siemens Mobility Limited and conservation charity Birds of Poole Harbour, leading partners in an osprey translocation project to restore a breeding population of ospreys in the south of England. Artist Michael Condron will create a sculpture of an osprey to be bathed in light and installed on Poole Quay.

Education projects include creative music workshops for primary school children who write poems to music inspired by the migration journey of the osprey. Birds of Poole Harbour will exhibit the poetry in its HQ and hope to share this new artwork with partner schools in West Africa where the ospreys typically spend their winter.

Veteran fire artists Ben Rigby and Mandy Dike, collectively known as And Now: will create a contemplative fire garden in St James’s Gardens that explores notions of faith and invites visitors to contribute to an evolving sculptural installation.

Speakers at the festival talks at Poole’s Lighthouse arts centre include TV historian Dr Janina Ramirez, Professor Mark McCaughrean, who is senior science advisor at the European Space Agency, and medieval history expert Professor Giles Gaspar from Durham University.

In their talk, Sex and Drugs and Overload, accompanied by stunning light projections, researchers from Oxford University’s Diseases of Modern Life Group will discuss how the Victorians coped with the impact of new technology compared with how we deal with it today.

Their work shows that the way we talk about how technology is invading our lives, changing too fast and causing information overload is exactly how the Victorians spoke of it. People who had been connected to the next town by horse and had to wait days for information to arrive were suddenly connected to Scotland by train and to the United States by the telegraph. Victorians thought information travelled too fast for the truth, just as many people do now.

The festival culminates with the Light Up Family Rave in the Lighthouse concert hall with Berlin Underground DJ Kenny Mitchell and urban grooves mixologist DJ Pixi J.

For full details visit