University collaborates on new Art and Light Festival to transform Portsmouth into a night-time gallery

a ship made up of light projections in red

The free event will see local and national artists take to the streets for three nights of art and light installations

  • 15 October 2021
  • 5 min read

The University of Portsmouth’s Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries is a main collaborator on We Shine Portsmouth! Art and Light Festival taking place in November.

The free family-friendly event, led by the arts group Portsmouth Creates, will see local and national artists take to the streets for three nights (18–20 November) of art and light installations.

Opening on Thursday 18 November alongside the Commercial Road Christmas light switch-on, visitors can stroll through the city soaking up the sights as the streets and buildings of Portsmouth are transformed into a night-time gallery for the three-night event.

Lighting up the city

Nationally recognised light artists Heinrich & Palmer are set to wow audiences with their stunning mythical installation ‘Ship of the Gods' at St Mary's Church, Fratton. Originally commissioned for Hull Minster, the project was inspired by the Norse myth of Skidbladnir, a magical shape-shifting vessel which was large enough to carry all the gods and their equipment yet could also be folded up small enough to fit inside a pocket. Using 3D laser scanning technology, a voile screen, film, sound, and lighting effects the artists creates an impressive life-size 3D model which attracted an audience of over 40,000 people in four nights at Hull Lumiere.

This offers a wonderful opportunity for local communities to engage with the vibrant arts and culture that make our city such an amazing place to live, work and visit

Trevor Keeble, Dean of CCI and Professor of Design

Visitors will also have the rare opportunity to visit Victoria Park after-dark and witness a series of illuminated art pieces giving visitors a fresh perspective on a familiar space. While back in the town centre, popular Portsmouth artists Foursandeights and Pompey Banana Club will be collaborating with members of the community on a brand-new supersized project that will culminate in dazzling large-scale projections.

To add to this, there will be huge painted murals, large-scale light installations, dance performances, a lantern parade from Fratton Big Local, and much more to see as visitors stroll across the city.

Dean of CCI and Professor of Design Trevor Keeble said: “We are very pleased to be supporting Portsmouth Creates to deliver We Shine Portsmouth. This offers a wonderful opportunity for local communities to engage with the vibrant arts and culture that make our city such an amazing place to live, work and visit.”

CCI contribution

The CCI faculty has been heavily involved in We Shine for 2021 and its Centre for Creative and Immersive Extended Reality (CCIXR) has collaborated with a wide range of artists to create the Audio Trails around the City, which have been integrated into an app. CCIXR is hosting visually impaired artist Clarke Reynold’s piece "To see the stars" within the Eldon building, and are collaborating with him on this piece. The Centre is also working with Thomas Buckley on his immersive installation project that will see butterflies (coloured by young people from around the area) come to life digitally.

a ship made up of light projections in white

Pippa Bostock, Business Director for CCIXR and a Director of Portsmouth Creates, said: “I'm delighted that CCIXR has been able to collaborate on a number of projects for We Shine 2021, working with communities and artists to bring the city to life in a new and unexpected way. We have worked on audio trails, apps, immersive experiences and light projection - and that's just a small taste of what the festival has to offer. I can't wait to see We Shine light up the skies in Portsmouth, and this is just the beginning – plans for We Shine 2022 are already underway.”

Alongside the amazing art and light installations, We Create Market will be back for its Christmas edition. Brimming with local makers, designers, and artists the pop-up market known for utilising unused urban spaces will return – location TBC. Open for late-night Christmas shopping from 5.00pm–9.00pm on Thursday and Friday and from 12.00pm9.00pm on the Saturday, it's the perfect place to stop by and shop local in time for Christmas.

I'm delighted that CCIXR has been able to collaborate on a number of projects for We Shine 2021, working with communities and artists to bring the city to life in a new and unexpected way

Pippa Bostock, Business Director for CCIXR and a Director of Portsmouth Creates

A spokesperson from Portsmouth Creates, the arts group behind the event and the We Create Market said: “We’re so excited for We Shine Portsmouth. Bringing cultural events and opportunities to Portsmouth is what we are all about. Lots of cities benefit from art & light festivals and we thought it was about time Portsmouth enjoyed one too.

“We’re working with a fantastic host of people including Arts Council England, The University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth City Council and the team behind Victorious Festival to create the event and we really hope it becomes a staple in the event calendar for the people of Portsmouth and beyond to enjoy.”

Alumni taking part in the We Shine Portsmouth Festival

University graduate and lecturer in Illustration Neequaye Dsane has painted a stunning new mural of former University student and community leader Marie Costa for the festival.

Neequaye, also known as 'Dreph', graduated in 1997 and started a career within community arts. He then taught in Pupil Referral Units (PRUs), secondary schools and now is a part-time lecturer in Illustration at the University. His personal practice is split between large-scale street murals and oil paintings with the studio, including a large-scale mural on the set of Eastenders in 2020.

The new mural commissioned for We Shine celebrates local community leader Marie Costa. Now in her 80s, Marie is part of the cultural fabric of Portsmouth, where she has worked as a nurse, teacher, carer, businesswoman, university governor and community volunteer since the 1960s.

Neequaye said: "Marie has been described as formidable, inspirational, and a doer and has worked tirelessly for decades to promote intercultural understanding. I am happy that the mural and festival has been embraced by such a large cross section of the community. I'm happy that I have been able to make work at this scale where I studied and now work. I feel as if I have come full circle and I'm full of gratitude for the opportunity to give back in this way."

The Marie Costa Mural can be found at Portsmouth Combined Court Centre within Winston Churchill Avenue across the three days of We Shine. See more of Neequaye’s fascinating work on his website.

Mural image of Marie Costa

The Marie Costa Mural.

University alumnus and blind braille artist, Clarke Reynolds, will also be taking part in the We Shine Festival.

At the age of six, Clarke was blind in one eye. This, alongside other illnesses, meant he found education hard but was determined to fight for it. His hard work, grit and determination led to a diploma in Fine Art from the University of Portsmouth. After this, he furthered his education in Rochester obtaining a bachelor of arts degree in Model Making. Upon leaving University, he struggled finding a degree-related role. He took a job stacking shelves and continued to work on his artwork in his spare time. Ten years ago, he started losing sight in his other eye. He told us that this is what has made him the great international artist he is today.

“I want to raise awareness about visual impairment and blindness, and remove the disability stigma. It’s the most important thing to me and to be a mentor/role model for the future generation.

“We live in a visual world and audio description does not do the art justice. It should be touched, it should be felt and it should be enjoyed. My braille art bridges this gap.”

Clarke said that the one thing the majority of blind people say they miss is ‘the stars at night’. So, for the We Shine Festival, Clarke has created an installation which will not only raise awareness, but be a full immersive experience for all. Within Eldon Building, a stone's throw from where he grew up, there will be a blacked out tent with UV light displaying canopies of stars.

Join Clarke from 5 to 9m across the three days of ‘We Shine’. To find out more and view his stunning work, visit his website.

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