Poole of light – town centre shines in festival of light art

More than 20,000 visitors were amused, amazed and de-light-ed by last weekend’s Light Up Poole festival of digital light art that illuminated the town centre after dark.

The three-night event showed Poole in a new light with a series of installations and events set up from Lighthouse, through Falkland Square and Kingland Crescent, down the High Street to the Quay.

Artists and designers were invited to respond to Poole on a theme of ‘Identity’ and delivered a stunning collection of work that included Submergence, the immersive walk-through experience created by Squidsoup, an international group of artists, researchers, technologists and designers; and The Squirrel, a digital art installation by Tim Boin and Dave Lynch to highlight the extinction plight of Brownsea Island’s red squirrels.

Sounds of Poole, a soundscape album created by local school students working with artist Jon Adams and the SoundStorm music education hub played in the Fish Shambles; and Arbour, artist Mark Perry’s illumination of the trees in Orchard Plaza, created a magical walk of light.

“This was accessible, interactive, immersive art for everyone and the people of Poole embraced it with real enthusiasm,” says Libby Battaglia of festival directors Audacious.

“There are amazing things to see every day but sometimes we need to put them in the spotlight so people can see the place where they live in a different light. It was really heart warming to see so many families out and about, coming together on the streets of Poole after dark in the middle of February to play and have fun with art.”

Visitors to Light Up Poole also helped launch a new app from Bournemouth-based Rogue Games and became the first in the world to try their hand at the game. The premiere of FLO was beamed onto the wall of Lighthouse, Poole’s centre for the arts, and the game has since gone on to top the Racing category of the App Store in 20 countries including the USA, Japan, Argentina, South Korea, France and Spain.

Sponsored by Poole BID and funded by Arts Council England, Light Up Poole also enjoyed widespread support from the town’s business community.

“It was fantastic to see the town centre lit up by the brilliant event, which attracted many residents and visitors to Poole. The BID was delighted to sponsor this great event and thanks all organisers and other supporters involved,’ says Jonathan Sibbert, chair of Poole BID.

“It is clear that Light Up Poole attracted significant footfall in the town centre, which is something that is desperately needed,” says Adam Keen, general manger of Morebus. “We look forward to seeing further events of this nature that appeal to a broad spectrum of people and bring Poole to life in the evenings.”

Jeanette Walsh from Truly Scrumptious sweet shop on the High Street adds: “What a success Light Up Poole was – it encouraged families to visit the free interactive events whilst enjoying the town and the Quay. I hope this is made into an annual event.”

Organisers say plans are already being hatched for next year’s Light Up Poole and are in contact with a number of artists interested in submitting work.

“From the start Light Up Poole has been a collaborative effort between the artists and agencies such as SoundStorm and Artfulscribe, as well as Lighthouse and the Arts University Bournemouth, not to mention the wonderful volunteers and the people and businesses of Poole,” says Libby Battaglia.

“We’ve had fantastic feedback, including some constructive criticism, and there’s clearly an appetite for Light Up Poole. I heard from one group of 18 pensioners who were having their tea together in Poole on Thursday night, saw the report on BBC South Today and came out to see what was going on!”