LewesLight 2017 – running from Friday to Saturday, October 13-15 – promises a “festival of light unlike any other”, now in its third year.
Spokeswoman Rachel Cunningham said: “It is a festival with a theme, which celebrates the history of this ancient market town. The specially-commissioned light installations, enhanced, for the first time this year, by poetry, performance and music, are by national and international designers from a wide variety of backgrounds. Each evocative artwork illustrates an aspect of the story. The festival is also a showcase for the digital media design, photography and production arts students at Sussex Downs College.
“This year’s festival will illuminate the fascinating industrial, commercial and trading past of Lewes, focusing on the heart of its high streets from the Town Hall to the end of the Cliffe. Lewes is a town with a surprising and intriguing past. Looking at it now, who would guess that within living memory, it was a significant industrial centre with foundries and cement and gas works?
“The Festival will bring to life-lesser known stories and the people who have transformed and influenced the town over the centuries. In the High Street, wealthy businessmen collected jewels and commissioned paintings, whilst on the other side of the river the Cliffe area has remained a community of traders for hundreds of years. There was once an extensive network of rail lines and sidings in the heart of Lewes, and for several centuries, the river was a major artery for transporting goods and materials.
“LewesLight is run on a not-for-profit basis with professionals donating their time. It is organised in partnership with Sussex Downs College and is supported by Lewes District Council, Lewes Town Council, leading companies in the lighting industry and other sponsors who have local links, including Bill’s, now a national institution.
“The festival is free and open to all. Run from the heart of the Lewes community, it welcomes visitors from throughout the country. There will be regular guided tours by an excellent team of local historians.”
Graham Festenstein, festival director, said: “Many festivals contain truly-beautiful, specially-commissioned artworks, but whilst some of these installations may be site specific, few are created to elucidate an historical context. On the other hand, the large scale, more commercial lighting events concentrate on entertainment. Our aim is to achieve more.
“LewesLight 2017 will include magnificent artworks, created by an even greater number of artists and designers than in previous years, many of whom are of the highest order and also have local links. Each installation is inspired by the context of Lewes, and contributes to a narrative about the town, its history and its people. We can deliver much more by way of story-telling, to engage a wider audience, particularly younger people, in a stimulating and exciting way. Lewes is compact and walkable, and lends itself to an illuminated trail.
“LewesLight is a showcase where designers can develop their personal profiles and highlight their practices, as well as demonstrating the impact that lighting can have on public spaces. It increases understanding of the environmental issues of lighting, particularly in the context of the Dark Skies Reserve.”