Some years ago Alessandra Caggiano wondered why Cambridge was full of beautiful buildings, but at night they were so dark and gloomy. Out of that thought was born a vision of light that the revisits the city yearly, painting façades with rainbows and changing multi-colour patterns.
Her dream come true is the E-luminate festival, which is on through 14 February in its sixth incarnation, with stunning light installations with the slogan 'see the city in a new light' and the theme of 'colour'.
After coming to the city from her home in Turin, said Caggiano, Artistic Director and founder of E-Luminate, 'I had a vision of coloured lights on Cambridge’s iconic buildings to celebrate the architectonic mastery, the innovative technological solutions and artistic quality in a festival accessible to all, and E-Luminate was born'. Now organised by Cambridge Live and sponsored by a number of generous local companies, the festival lights up the city for six nights each year.
The launch event Friday 9 February included welcome speeches by Sara Garnham, Chair of Cambridge Live, MP Daniel Zeichner, Dr James Fox, guest curator and Alessandra Caggiano, Artistic Director at E-Luminate. The big switch on at the front of the guildhall was compered by BBC Radio presenter Thordis Fridriksson and counted down by the Mayor of Cambridge, Councillor George Pippas, who reminded us of the beauty of Cambridge, tonight enhanced by the colour and light of the installations. As we reached zero, the Guildhall was swathed in rainbow strips of light, celebrating our vibrant multicultural city, to the delight of the crowd who had gathered.
The switch-on was preceded by a colourful walk around the installations with Caggiano, James Fox and meeting some of the artists en route who explained their light-art and inspriations.
The pièce de resistance of the festival is the huge Senate House, swathed in multi-colour changing patterns and it looked stunning. Called ‘I see’ and designed by Ross Ashton, who has been creating architectural projections for over 25 years, his second installation can be seen illuminating the Fitzwilliam and is entitled ‘Night at the Museum’.
Just next to the Senate house is the façade of Caius College and this has been quite literally, decorated in light by artist Patrice Warrener who developed the Chromolithe technique 30 years ago and has worked on over 100 illuminations all over Europe and the world. This is his first time in Cambridge where he has created a spectacular and truly colourful centrepiece which is equally fascinating close up as from a distance. The colours trace and pick out the architectural features and, close-up, it looks like the statues are wearing colourful clothing. Truly a work of light-art.
Along the river, crossing the Garret Hostel Bridge, ‘Women Writing History’ by BDP is an interactive installation. The artist explained to us that it is celebrating all the women whose contributions have been lost or hidden, very apt this week as we remember 100 years of votes for women. Tweet to @restore2history with the appropriate hashtag #male #female #nonbinary you can see the light effect change.
Along with these are The Colours of the Brain, and the Hammersmith Poem. The festival is more than the installations though, with ongoing events such as wine-tasting at Hotel du Vin, a light trail and a variety of talks and workshops. See the website for more information.