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New light installations to inspire and illuminate iconic Civic Centre and beyond

The first in a series of light installations in the heart of Plymouth is glowing from the windows of the iconic Civic Centre.

A programme of artistic creations in the city centre has launched with the illuminating message from the building, currently being developed by Urban Splash.

The message reads, ‘What Will You Make Of It?’ and has been developed by agency Creative Concern as part of the marketing campaign for the nationally-recognised British Art Show 9, which runs at city venues until early January.

It’s the first in a series of light installations commissioned in the city centre in a project led by Plymouth Culture, in partnership with Plymouth City Council and funded by Historic England through the Heritage Action Zone programme.

The light-powered artworks are designed to breathe new life into spaces and buildings – creating everyday cultural encounters for those who see them.

They are designed to represent the rebirth of the Civic Centre and the area that surrounds it – symbols of hope for the future that also highlights the heritage of the past.

Plymouth Culture CEO Hannah Harris said: “This thought-provoking programme of art installations is designed to light up the spaces and places in Plymouth that we might otherwise walk past without a second thought.

“Plymouth is building a fantastic art and culture heritage that’s often inspired by light – whether that’s the remarkably successful Illuminate festival or the No New Worlds installation in Plymouth Sound in 2020/21.

“These new creations activate spaces in a really accessible and everyday way – and are likely to grow in scale as we progress through the programme. They will fit into the improvements being made to the city centre, such as the redevelopment of the Civic Centre and Civic Square.

“We hope the artworks provide a moment for everyone to stop, think and enjoy – while activating the spaces and buildings in the heritage zone.”

While this first work has been created in response to the British Art Show, future commissions will be available to artists through open calls in 2023. The British Art Show is taking place at The Box, KARST, MIRROR gallery at Arts University Plymouth and The Levinsky Gallery at the University of Plymouth.

Adam Willetts, Associate Director Development at Urban Splash, said: “Successful regeneration is about so much more than bricks and mortar. Making successful places means understanding the value people bring, especially the role of artists and creatives who deliver intangible value to the places they inhabit. 

“For almost three decades Urban Splash has collaborated with artists and designers to feature their works within our buildings and we are delighted to be a part of this new installation – something which will light up Plymouth this January.

“Our congratulations to all involved.”

One of the show’s themes is ‘imagining new futures’ – the light installations reflect this by trying to connect people to their heritage while looking to the future of the city, in a way that builds understanding, tolerance and pride.

This first installation has been supported by contractors Squibb Group, and JHAV are providing technical project management throughout the programme.

Simon Hickman, Team Leader at Historic England, said: “The High Street Heritage Action Zone is designed to help breathe new life into Plymouth city centre, and we hope that this artwork signals the rebirth of the Civic. It’ll get people thinking about the opportunities that will come from a revitalised city centre.”

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