Following the success of last year’s inaugural GLOW Festival in Weston-super-Mare, the enchanting event is back in the New Year to light up the town with a dazzling array of illuminated artworks and performance.
Taking place from 15 to 18 February 2023, this year’s festival will be located once more in Grove Park,with added attractions radiating out to other popular town centre locations, including The Grand Pier and Princess Royal Square in a new, expanded programme, funded by Arts Council England, the National Lottery Community Fund and Weston-super-Mare Town Council.
GLOW is conceived and designed by Weston-based artist and producer Paula Birtwistle and presented in partnership by Culture Weston and Weston-super-Mare Town Council.
Entry to GLOW in Grove Park is from 6pm to 9pm each night with advance booking and Pay What You Decide tickets allocated in time slots. Under 16s need to be accompanied by an adult. The additional light installations around the town are free for everyone to enjoy.
GLOW festival line-up and advance tickets at: https://cultureweston.org.uk/listings/glow23/
Visit cultureweston.org.uk and follow @cultureweston for the latest updates.
Over four evenings during February half term, the town will be transformed by stunning displays of magical illumination, in this flagship, sustainably-produced event that celebrates nature and the environment.
Visitors to GLOW can expect to be enthralled by a trail of light installations, interactive activities and sensory experiences suitable for all the family – from nationally-acclaimed spectacles and new showcase commissions, including artwork from internationally acclaimed artist Chila Kumari Singh Burman, to a shining community programme of local, creative talent.
Paula Birtwistle said: “We’re so excited to build on the success of last year’s event, with a four-day light festival. GLOW 2023 will transform familiar public spaces with spectacular, site-specific light and sound installations, projection mapping and live performance.
“Through new, diverse artwork commissions and community projects, the emphasis is on co-creation and bringing local people, their ideas and stories into the heart of the festival. Over the winter months more than a hundred local people will be working alongside artists to dream up this magical experience.
“This year, thanks to generous funding support from Arts Council England, we are delighted to be able to expand the festival from Grove Park into other areas of the town, enabling more people than ever to enjoy this celebration of the town.”
Town Clerk Malcolm Nicholson, said: “GLOW is fast becoming a flagship event in Weston’s annual cultural calendar. It showcases our town’s cultural and artistic ambition with a unique mix of locally created activities alongside stunning national artworks.”
Grove Park light installations
illumaphonium – HALO
HALO is a series of interconnected, interactive columns featuring illuminated ‘halos’ that, when touched, light up and play bespoke music and birdsong. HALO invites the public to experience this playful, inclusive and immersive space and discover the joy of spontaneous music making in this inspiring artwork of light and sound. HALO is created by Somerset-based artists ‘illumaphonium’, renowned for their large-scale and interactive, public installations.
Felix Rowberry – FIRE GARDEN
FIRE GARDEN is a large scale, sculpture co-created by Somerset based artist, fabricator and pyrotechnician Felix Rowberry, who has devised metalwork and special effects for shows like Doctor Who, Top Gear and X-Factor. Felix has worked with Arcadia and on pyrotechnic displays across the country. For GLOW, she will be working with young people from South Weston Activities Network to present FIRE GARDEN, a new fire sculpture for the event.
Paula Birtwistle – SWING playground
SWING takes a traditional playground favourite and re-imagines it in a different context. This artwork, piloted at GLOW in 2022, returns by popular demand. Suspended from a series of trees in Grove Park, the extra wide swings light up the sky in motion. This year, a new glowing sand pit joins the playground theme, where patterns can be made in the sand to reveal a glowing centre.
Paula Birtwistle – DISCO
DISCO playfully juxtaposes different musical cultures with a series of disco balls that will illuminate the historic bandstand in Grove Park. Set to a 70s disco party soundtrack, this outdoor venue guarantees to get the whole family grooving and strutting their shimmering stuff.
Alison Smith – THE NECTARY
THE NECTARY is an interactive, multi-sensory light and sound installation comprised of six giant, suspended and illuminated flower heads, hand crafted from recycled plastic packaging. The unique artwork invites visitors to immerse themselves in nature and hear a soundscape of bees and other pollinators – “the hum of the earth” – as they mimic a pollinating insect, by standing inside each flower head and moving from flower to flower. Created by Leeds based artist Alison Smith and Dr. Chris Hassall, lecturer in Animal Biology at the University of Leeds, The Nectary raises understanding of the delicate ecosystems of which we are a part. The installation was developed with funding from Light Night Leeds, the University of Leeds and From the Fields.
Bev G Star – ENTWINED
ENTWINED is a new artwork being co-created by Weston-based visual artist Bev G Star and service users from We Are With You that will be located in Jill Dando’s Garden. The multi-layered piece using photo-luminescent materials, will unfold throughout the day-night cycle with variations in colour and illumination, inspired by the natural surroundings. Bev, who also hosts the Humans of Weston podcast and radio show, aims to encourage people to tap into their imaginations by providing the inspiration and tools to empower their own sense of creative curiosity.
Jasmine Thompson – FUTURE PLAYGROUND
FUTURE PLAYGROUND is a new animated projection artwork being created by Bristol-based illustrator and designer Jasmine Thompson working with young people from the YMCA Youth Service. Jasmine uses illustration to capture stories of people and places in an inclusive and collaborative way. Future Playground will explore and share the hopes and experiences of living in Weston in a fun and interactive artwork, reflecting young people from across the town and how they wish to express themselves to make a statement about who they are.
Sophie Shepherd – SPEAK FOR THE TREES
SPEAK FOR THE TREES is a new, audio installation exploring climate change devised by Weston-based writer, poet, performer and youth worker Sophie Shepherd in collaboration with young people from Boombox and Off the Record (OTR). Through a series of workshops led by Sophie Shepherd, the project will engage a diverse youth group to explore spoken word and poetry with an environmental theme. This will culminate in a co-created work that will be recorded as a sound installation at GLOW capturing the thoughts, views and concerns about climate change of a younger generation for all to hear.
Dylan Barker – YOUNG PEOPLE’S COMMUNITY ART PROJECT
Dylan Barker is a Weston based artist and youth worker. He will work with young people on South Ward, where he lives, to create a light installation responding to their feeling about GLOW, nature and the environment.
TREE TOP STOMP
Groups and families can keep warm by jumping up and down on the interactive dance floor stomp pads, in a race to light up to the top of their coloured tree – an energetic experience that combines fun with exercise.
Simon and Paula Birtwistle – SEEGULL
Light up, interactive gull mobile, Seegull, is a large-scale toy ornithopter that flaps gently when pulled. Rippling with rainbow colours he is the constant sight and sound of seaside towns.
Friends of Grove Park – BUG HOTEL
A Bug Hotel area with audio descriptions of the transformative history of the
Friends of Grove Park
PLUS a feast for the eyes including Laser Sky installation, a PRIDE Rainbow of trees, Flag Avenue, Lantern trail by members of South Ward community, From The Mud ‘Lorax’ pop up theatre performance, musical xylophone trees, sky tracker lights and more.
Food and drink will be available to purchase at Sprout café, while the Culture Weston bar will serve up warming, mulled wine and cider.
Town centre and seafront light installations
Locations and more artworks to be announced
Flora Litchfield – LASERTONIC
LASERTONIC is an artwork by Laserist and Visual Artist, Flora Litchfield, exploring how space can be shifted through light and sound and the crossover between art, technology and landscape. With a focus on colour therapy and geometry within nature, the work centres around human experience, wellbeing and the role colour and sound play in affecting mood and emotions.
Helen Musselwhite & Illuminos – MYSTERY BIRD
MYSTERY BIRD is a collaborative artwork featuring birds as symbols of hope, freedom and the positive, life-affirming force of nature, created in response to the social restrictions people experienced through the pandemic. The modern-day carnival float consisting of an illuminated bird cage, a magical soundscape and projection, holds universal appeal and provides a unique, special and unexpected experience.