Plymouth’s very own light festival - how exciting!
The event honours the anniversary of The Mayflower which set sail from Plymouth in 1620 and arrived in America 66 days later. It is celebrated here in Plymouth as well as in Plymouth Massachusetts, having their 400th anniversary in 2020.
The event took place over the course of three days at the infamous Royal William Yard. As VIPs, we were taken backstage a couple of days prior to the event by the events team and we were shown where the projections and acts would take place (and potential photography locations too!). We got a sneak peek of the amazing and ongoing fluorescent ‘rainbow of threads’ display in the column bake house café at Ocean studios. On the day of the event, the display looked even better and really caught some attention as it was broken twice! We also had the opportunity to attend an introductory event (where they served nibbles and wine), informing us about the history of the project, giving a round of applause for everyone who made it happen and the future of Illuminate over the upcoming years.
Light projections and visual pieces were mapped all around the yard from the entrance, and even located in telephone booths! The projections were designed by The Media Workshop, Plymouth College of Art and animation students from across Europe, whereas the installations were created by the University of Plymouth’s School of Art, Design and Architecture.
The main projections were at the building in front of the harbour, which featured Plymouth’s popular Smeaton’s Tower as well as other short story-like projections lasting about 15-20 minutes. We managed to get some great snaps from across the harbour, battling through the cold – it was worth it!
The unmissable highpoint of the night was the xyloband performance by dancers from the Street Factory and the Barbican Theatre. These wristbands have colour changing LEDs which are radio controlled, creating multiple flashing displays with different colours. The performance took place just outside the building where the main projection show took place, with the drummers creating an almost tribal vibe (who were also wearing xylobands) accompanied by the dancers creating light patterns as they moved, truly making the show a travelling light show. Getting good shots of the light performance proved to be a particularly difficult task. We tried to snap from a vantage point which didn’t quite work in our favour due to background light. We finally made our way to the front of the line for the xyloband performance and managed to get some good long exposure shots of the dancers and drummers in motion! I also got to join in with the dancers at the climax of their performance as part of the show was to get the public to engage.
To satisfy hunger needs, there were plenty of food stalls serving warm (and Christmassy) food and drinks, with the DJ playing pumpy music throughout the night.
There was also a designated area for what I am referring to as ‘light blooms” – balls of light on a ‘stem’ that changed colour and sound when handled, which really bought out my inner child.
This is just one of the wonderful events that takes place in Britain’s Ocean city and a little birdie told me that the same event in the upcoming years and I quote, “will be Illuminate 2017 on steroids”!