Royal William Yard lit up for the Illuminate Light Festival

Featured fine art students

Bethany Thomas
I hope they remember you, Bethany Thomas
Bethany Thomas | I Hope They Remember You
With a focus on portraiture and abstract expressionism, fine art student Bethany often studies how life is perceived by individuals who cannot control their mind – aiming to portray mental illnesses. Everything in her work links back to control. 
While Bethany's background is in painting and drawing, she has begun to produce digital and print works. She has an interest in the history and philosophy of art – particularly influenced by the notion of original thought. 
Bethany has been involved in exhibitions within her degree as well as being in an Age UK show Impressions 2017, The Plymouth Art Weekender 2018, Studio 102’s Stand Out exhibition and has entered work in to the 20:20 print exchange. 
She feels the purpose of art is to change someone for the better – even if it’s only one person. 
“I am looking to captivate and inspire citizens of Plymouth to decide what legacy they want to convey to forthcoming generations on a global level and on a personal one.
“My animated sequence, I Hope They Remember You, combines the traditional version of portraiture with movement to show people emoting and capturing the essence of a person, creating a moving representation.
“The words in my film are, ‘will they remember you?’ – I wanted to change the words from a statement to a question. Giving the audience control over how they are remembered by others.”
Our journey, right side – Eliza Newman
Our journey, left side – Eliza Newman

Eliza Newman | Our Journey

Current Plymouth fine art student Eliza's featured work at the festival was a light and sound installation called Our Journey.

“Through this art installation I encourage viewers to become more aware of individual sensual responses when perceiving a shared physical experience.

A key inspiration of Eliza's work is to both inspire and challenge viewer's imagination.

“Our Journey is about gaining new ideas and becoming more open to and aware of every-day experiences and how they may differ on a sensory level from person to person. Each viewer will experience the work in a unique way due to the sounds and visual elements prompting their own personal experiences, memories and imagination.”

Jaydan Alexander
Iridescent, Jaydan Alexander
Jaydan Alexander | Iridescent
Fine art student Jaydan's featured piece was called Iridescent. It took the form of an installation of the front bumper of a car with the headlights resting upon the top, as if the car was coming out of the exhibition/outdoor space. He made the piece more ‘festival like’, to fit into Illuminate’s style with coloured lighting rather than the standard warm orange car lights. The name comes from a Linkin Park song, the band is a major influence on Jaydan’s work.
“My artistic practice stems from an autoethnographic approach with notions centred around gender, social constructs, faith and mental health issues. I am a multidisciplinary artist working with film, sound, light and installation-based practices. 
“I have previous experience working with various galleries in and around Plymouth including my work as an intern at The Arts Institute for the last two years. My work as a volunteer and production assistant with Effervescent has had the most influence on my research and artistic practise. 
“I have also volunteered for the Plymouth Art Weekender for the last two years, and had artworks displayed in various exhibitions including Impressions 2018, an Age UK exhibition earlier this year.”

Turning spaces into places

Alongside current fine art students, Phil Power, the University's Associate Professor in Fine Art, exhibited a piece involving the iconic grey Stothert and Pitt’s cranes at the Royal William Yard as part of this year's Illuminate Light Festival.

“I welcome the desire to create both landmark and special places – as often landmarks can create viewing points punctuating the landscape but not places to just ‘be’ and contemplate. My constant material is light, both natural and made.
“The work is essentially collaborative; working with other professions to turn spaces into places. The starting point is the place; its history, geographical, social, environmental and cultural context. By working to understand all of that and carefully looking at uses and perceptions, I start to construct a ‘solution’.

Phil Power, Associate Professor in Fine Art Contextual Practice

“It is the duality of the private within a public space that fascinates and which I engage with and through the work. The aim to create work, which has many layers, meanings and interpretations; work that responds to the diversity of public viewers passing through – be it in minutes or years. 
“However, it is not just collaboration with other professions that interests but also with the users of a space. A need to find ways in which to engage the people who use and know the space and those who will be affected by its future development.
“There is a deliberate deference to Royal William Yard, Stothert and Pitt’s cranes are a symbol, a symbol that I am extremely excited to work with. Seeing ‘Illuminate’ as a celebration of Plymouth’s modern heritage. The ‘triggers’ are the people themselves, by moving along the route they become part of the work.
“This luminous storytelling underlines Royal William Yard’s uniqueness on both a local level and an international stage. Accompanied by the belief that light and brilliance help in creating the sites iconic architecture. Light is not a tool to enable vision but rather something to look at itself.
“This work was about taking three-dimensional space and making the same kind of allusions to the space beyond that. So, in that way, my work does have a lot more to do with the light being seen and used as material, and that it has a physical presence, and that space is solid and filled and never empty. The art is about your seeing.”

Space as Place, Phil Power
Space as Place, Phil Power
Space as Place, Phil Power
Space as Place, Phil Power

Illuminate Light Festival

Illuminate is a spectacular light-based festival that connects all of the Mayflower 400 destinations across the UK and internationally. In 2017 Plymouth’s Illuminate celebrations saw parts of Royal William Yard turned into a spectacular display of light-based art installations and projections. In 2018 Illuminate grew; showcasing projections and light art installations from local, national and international artists to provide a vibrant, fun and inspiring experience for Plymouth’s citizens and visitors alike.
Illuminate will continue to grow year on year becoming a signature event in the Mayflower 400 programme, and an annual large-scale light festival that will be a highlight in Plymouth’s event calendar. Discover more about the festival
Illuminate 2017 by Dom Moore