On Friday 14th October, a variety of speakers gathered at the Linklater Pavilion to deliver the first LewesLight conference. Sponsored by Architainment, the programme included discussions about lighting festivals, lighting and urban design, and other light related topics.

Graham Festenstein, Festival Director comments:

“The conference is an important part of the Festival. The selection of speakers was made so that we encompassed all of the key aspects of the LewesLight event. We wanted to cover the history and a general discussion about lighting festivals, including the tried and tested approach to generating tourism, boosting night time economy and as a tool for marketing. However we also wanted to explore community involvement, education and legacy, areas we feel are close to the core ethos of LewesLight.

I was also keen to investigate the wider issues of lighting in urban space and the impact of lighting, good and bad, on local communities. In my view all of these are connected and for a lighting festival to truly succeed as a community event it should be part of a wider discussion about lighting, urban design and sustainable community. We also wished to consider light art and also very importantly within the context of our location in the South Downs National Park Dark Skies Reserve, the impact of lighting on the environment.

We were delighted with the quality and range of the speakers who took part, all of whom had very interesting and challenging views and opinions, and we look forward to continuing the debate when the days proceedings are posted on our web page in coming weeks.

LewesLight would like to thank Architainment Lighting for helping make our conference day a success”

Summary of Speaker Programme

After an introduction by Graham Festenstein, the day’s presentations were chaired by lighting consultant and journalist – Alan Tulla.

The session started with a presentation by Johan Moritz from the City of Malmo, Sweden. Johan is a full-time lighting designer for the city, and both designs special light fittings as well as schemes for areas such as parks, pedestrian areas, artworks and special features. His main emphasis was that anti-social behaviour can be reduced by making places welcoming and where people wish to gather. As an example, he illuminated a rather desolate public park not by flooding the pathways with light but rather by creating illuminated tables and chairs where people could congregate.

Cashel Brown from Nulty+ talked about lighting festivals as being a leisure experience for tourists. He suggested that some people prefer to attend a live festival than historic buildings and exhibitions.

Mike Grubb from Michael Grubb Studio discussed the lessons learnt from organising the Bournemouth Light Festival. This is a much larger event than Lewes Light and has run for several years. Local community involvement plays a huge part in making the festival successful and Mike described various ways this can happen.

Richard Eastham is an urban designer and works with Bournemouth City Council, and other local authorities, on improving the day and night-time environment. He showed some revealing time-lapse slides showing how activity in different areas of the city changed throughout the day, evening and night.

This was followed by a long discussion about community involvement, funding and how to generate momentum and publicity.

Alex May is a light artist whose presentation covered projection mapping, and working on the design of robots to make them more responsive to human interaction. He quoted the architect Cesar Pelli who said “We must do no violence to the sky”.

The final presentation was by Dan Oakley on the work he had to do to classify the South Downs National Park as a Dark Sky Reserve.

Summing up, Alan Tulla said that he was impressed by the quality of the speakers and the lively debate and questions.