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Neon lighting celebrating heritage of Plymouth’s Civic Square to illuminate city centre this winter

A series of neon light installations that celebrate the heritage of Plymouth’s Civic Square and the buildings that surround it will be switched on later this month.

NeAr Suttona will be a series of coloured neon tubes displayed along the windows of the Council House which combine to create imagery that evokes its city centre location.

The strikingly creative artwork is by Plymouth-based artist Nick Halford whose design work and installations appear around the city, including the eye-catching cinema sign inside the University of Plymouth’s Roland Levinsky Building.

It’s the third light installation in the city centre this year after the scrolling ‘Love is the Highest Economy of Life’ message atop the Civic Centre and the ‘What Will You Make of It’ message displayed earlier this year.

The installations have been commissioned by Plymouth Culture in collaboration with Plymouth City Council and funded by Historic England’s High Streets Heritage Action Zone programme.

Artist Nick Halford said: “The artwork and the shapes within it are linked to the original Plymouth plans from 1956 based on Patrick Abercrombie and Paton Watson’s post-war Plan for Plymouth.

“It’s being produced using traditional neon-making techniques – neon is infinitely recyclable unlike other lighting as it’s just glass and inert gas.

“I would love the piece to find a permanent home so they can be enjoyed for many years to come.”

The light installation will be switched on at an official event on 30 November from 7-8pm outside the Council House, alongside an original music score by local composer Simon Dobson. The switch-on takes place on the same day the Plymouth Christmas Market opens on the Piazza, meaning the thousands of people visiting the city centre will be able to enjoy it.

Hannah Harris, Chief Executive of Plymouth Culture, said: “The light installations that we’ve commissioned for the city centre have been provoking interesting and important conversations and responses. 

“The work by the artists has had tremendous impact – not only providing everyday cultural encounters for people of Plymouth but also making us think about the future of our shared spaces and who accesses them.

“This unique, latest installation is no different – Nick has created a remarkable, sustainable neon work that’s a fun way to engage with the historic space around them.”

The light installation will be on display every day from 4pm-12am until the end of February 2024.

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