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A mesmerising array of light installations created by students and graduates of the University has created a buzz with visitors at this year's Illuminate light festival.

The free event, led by a partnership of the University, the Real Ideas Organisation, Plymouth College of Art, and Urban Splash, was the third annual festival of this type. 

For the first time, the festival expanded beyond the Royal William Yard, featuring additional installations at the Barbican and Mount Edgcumbe Country Park.

Here, we show you pictures of the dazzling light installations which lit up the night sky and left a lasting impression on the city.

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Students from media arts and digital design contributed a number of artistic and creative pieces to the festival, which signifies the launch of the year-long programme of events to commemorate Mayflower 400, both here and in the United States. 

Spanish artist Xavi Bové headlined the festival with his piece ‘Tree of Memory’, a projection mapping installation on the front of Mills Bakery.

There was also work exhibited from University of Plymouth BA (Hons) Fine Arts graduate Eliza Newman.

French creative Thomas Voillaume was also one of the major contributors, following up his eight-metre video mapped sculpture ‘Human’ from 2018 with another humanoid installation, ‘DIVA’.

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Illuminate 2019. Antonia Quinn
Illuminate 2019. Antonia Quinn
Illuminate 2019. Antonia Quinn

The Illuminate event is co-organised by Professor Chris Bennewith, Head of the School of Art, Design and Architecture.

“Illuminate is one of the signature events of Mayflower 400 and now a key date in Plymouth’s calendar. The city has really embraced it and it’s proven to be a perfect avenue through which young talent, including students from the University and Plymouth College of Art, can showcase their work.”

Adrian Vinken OBE, Chair of Mayflower 400 and Destination Plymouth, and an Honorary Doctor of Arts at the University, said:

“Growing on the back of previous years’ festivals, Illuminate has become a real highlight in Plymouth’s annual events calendar. It’s such a special event and we’re thrilled that this year it will act as the opening moment of the Mayflower 400 commemorations, not just in Plymouth but across the whole country.”

Illuminate 2019. Picture by Antonia Quinn
Illuminate 2019. Picture by Antonia Quinn
Illuminate 2019 - Antonia Quinn
Illuminate 2019 - Antonia Quinn
Illuminate 2019 - Antonia Quinn

Students involved in Illuminate

Digital Media students/work

  • Fireflies - Emma Stolliday, Jasmine Price, Kevin White, Mel Thallapally, Andrew Dunne
  • E-coids 2.0 - Joel Hodges, Angelika Kolodziej, Sioned Freer, Chelsea Harrison, Jack Parnell
  • Smoke - Julian Whatley, Andrew Shankster, David Mallet, Thomas Rainey
  • Jellyfish - Rongzhang Gu, Fei Wang, Yuge Wang, Zhiming Wang
  • Clouds - Ruobing Xie, Zixi Zhou, Liang Sun, Xinyu Qian, Ying Sun.

Media Arts students

  • Danielle Austin
  • Rachel Singleton
  • Smile for the Camera - Alex Jones
  • Eloise Archer
  • Anna Hunicke
  • Stephanie Anjo
  • Niamh Marshall.

“Light Festivals around the world create wonderfully vibrant and engaging social events for cities and their citizens to enjoy. They are a fantastic display of a city’s creativity and a great, fun, family event that gives people something to look forward to during the dark winter months. We are excited to be able to show off some of the region’s excellent creative talent, and excited that so many of our artists this year have links with the University and the other institutions in the city. Something to be really proud of!”

Chris Bennewith, Head of School of Art, Design and Architecture, festival steering group member and part of the internationally renowned art and design collective working with light – Squidsoup

Illuminate Festival of Light at Royal William Yard