Luminations, Cleethorpes

Lighting Design: Esther Rolinson, The Light Lab | Photography: Gary Davies
“Luminations is about that instant when you are on the big dipper and gravity loses its grip on you, when for a moment you are released from you cares. It is a celebration of those ecstatic feelings of freedom that dwell somewhere inside all of us.” Esther Rolinson

Unveiled in March 2022, the new public artwork along the North Promenade in Cleethorpes is a 500 m long animated light display. It was designed by award-winning British visual artist Esther Rolinson, working in close collaboration with architectural lighting specialists The Light Lab. Luminations was developed from Esther’s ‘Gravitate’ series of drawings and comprises two swooping lines of lights that weave in and out of each other. Suspended from the lamp posts along the promenade, the lights flow back and forth along the artwork, performing loops through custom built fixtures.

A range of challenges

The project presented a variety of challenges, from creating a 3D sculpture from 2D drawings to dealing with the north-sea weather. At the outset of the project, Esther worked with The Light Lab's engineers to understand the limits of the shapes and how the supporting structures would work. She then translated the drawings into 3D brass models, which were turned into 3D models and detailed by The Light Lab ready for construction at full scale in steel. Once in place the festoon cables were carefully fixed to the forms and supporting steel cables.

Whilst it is a structural artwork in its own right, Luminations really comes alive with the movement created through the interaction between the two lines of light. The artwork plays over 190 individual animations created by Rolinson. Esther deliberately limited the colour palette to emphasis the form and sensory movement of the work and reflect Cleethorpes’ spectacular sunsets and sunrises. The lights appear to be ‘blown’ through with shivers and burst of light; and are constantly changing from gentle fades to dynamic surges and waves.

Luminations, Cleethorpes

To create these stunning effects, the lights are controlled by a Pharos VLC 50 controller. In total, 16 Artnet universes were required, eight per light string. The Architainment technical team programmed the lights based on the video effects provided by Rolinson. Each of the main show animations runs for a few minutes, with a small set of short break shows playing between the main shows. The short break shows bring the system to full white of various shades, then dim again as a new main show starts playing. All the shows are picked randomly to create a constantly changing visual experience.

For the technical team, the British weather added to the challenge of testing the system. “We were doing the testing at night in February and it was so cold and wet, that I had to take a break to go inside and get warm”, said Ian Davies, Technical Sales Engineer.

A Breathtaking Result

Taking the traditional seaside festoon lighting to euphoric heights, the final result speaks for itself. As Esther commented after visiting the installation, 

“All I could hear walking along the North Prom was the sound of people sighing and saying ‘ooooh’”.

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