This month, Weston town centre will be transformed by a series of pop-up, illuminated artworks as part of a new, expanded programme for GLOW Light Festival 2023, taking place from 15 to 18 February. Details at https://cultureweston.org.uk/listings/glow23/
GLOW festival, funded by Arts Council England, the National Lottery Community Fund and Weston-super-Mare Town Council, is the brainchild of Weston-based producer Paula Birtwistle and presented in partnership with Culture Weston, Weston-super-Mare Town Council and the Grand Pier.
Created by a stellar line-up of national artists, the additional light installations will spill out from the main festival site at Grove Park, into popular town centre locations where they can be enjoyed free of charge by residents and visitors to Weston.
A dazzling new artwork from internationally acclaimed artist Chila Kumari Singh Burman MBE will be showcased at the Grand Pier. In the specially commissioned neon artwork ‘Pigeon’, she pays a jaunty and iridescent tribute to this everyman of the birdworld.
Chila Kumari Singh Burman said: “The humble pigeon is commonly maligned yet is an extraordinary bird that continues to populate urban spaces the world over. Historically revered as sacred by a number of cultures, employed as wartime messengers and equipped with a homing instinct that can chart 800 miles in a day, this global street dweller deserves a moment to shine.
“It’s been fun to notice pigeons afresh – the colours that ripple their grey feathers, the gentle underscore their cooing brings to cityscapes, their sense of community. My Weston ’super’ pigeon will I hope help people to look again at what’s on their doorstep, with a big smile in the mix!”
Describing herself as a ‘Punjabi Liverpudlian’, Chila’s vivacious style fuses her Indian roots with popular culture, exemplified in her groundbreaking ‘Remembering a Brave New World’, which lit up hearts, minds and the facade of TATE BRITAIN at the height of the pandemic in 2020.
Before coming home to nest in Weston’s town centre, ‘Pigeon’ will be on display at The Grand Pier, alongside two additional works by Chila Kumari Singh Burman – ‘Laxmi’ and ‘Without us there is no Britain’, both of which were part of the iconic TATE BRITAIN facade, and like Pigeon, celebrate a spirit of resilience.
Local students from Walliscote Primary School are taking inspiration from ‘Pigeon’ to create their own illuminated nests filled with ideas and dreams that they hope will take flight in the future. Led by artist Megan Clark-Bagnall, ‘Nest’ will be on display in the window of Weston Artspace on the High Street throughout GLOW.
‘Pigeon’ has been enabled by 21st Century super Shrines, a programme managed by Culture Weston as part of the four-year long High Streets Heritage Action Zones’ Cultural Programme, funded by Historic England in partnership with Arts Council England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
Joining the Grand Pier installations are ‘Lasertonic’ at Dolphin Square, a light projection by laserist and visual artist, Flora Litchfield that explores the role colour and sound play in affecting mood and emotions.
Plus, there is more ornithology with ‘Mystery Bird’ by Helen Musselwhite & Illuminos that brings an illuminated bird cage, magical soundscape and projection to Princess Royal Square in a collaborative artwork featuring birds as symbols of hope and freedom.
Paula Birtwistle, producer of GLOW, said: “Thanks to the generous support of all our funders, this year GLOW is able to radiate its joy beyond Grove Park. The festival presents an ambitious programme of highly acclaimed work and community participation, largely featuring female artists and showcasing iconic artworks that add to Weston’s ever-growing cultural portfolio.”
A GLOW town centre trail map will be available in the run up to the Festival, containing location information on the artists and their light displays. It will also feature town attractions lit up especially for GLOW, including a new horticultural artwork ‘Lighthouse Garden’ located at Weston’s train station forecourt and the vibrant Super Wonder Shrine recently created by legendary artist Morag Myerscough and the community.
Visitors to the flagship, sustainably-produced event at Grove Park can enjoy a stunning array of site-specific light and sound installations, interactive activities, live performance and sensory experiences for all the family. Celebrating nature and the environment, GLOW highlights include ‘The Nectary’ by Alison Smith and Illumaphonium’s ‘Halo’, alongside a shining community programme of local, creative talent.
GLOW Festival is kindly sponsored by Severnside Community Rail Partnership and GWR who commissioned ‘Lighthouse Garden’ at Weston train station’s forecourt, and Bristol Water who enabled the water installation ‘Every Drip Every Drop’ at Grove Park.
For more information about the full festival line-up at GLOW, visit cultureweston.org.uk and follow @cultureweston for the latest updates.