We Shine Light Festival is just around the corner and here is a run down of all the cultural things to see over the 3 days. My plan is to focus on different areas over the whole 72 hours. Here is a guide of what to see over the entire event.
As there are so many things to see and do, I have tried to make it easier for navigation by splitting it into days. Of course, you can arrange to see the event however suits you but as I want to try and see as much as I can, I always like to have a plan and lay out my route.
Before you head into Guildhall Walk and venture towards Victoria Park and Commercial Road, there is a lovely installation to greet you at the Eldon Building by local artist Clarke Reynolds who wowed us earlier this year with his Braile Trail at Victorious. Named 'To See Stars' and on for the whole 3 days, this canopy of stars will wow sighted people as well as visually impaired guests and will allow sighted and blind people to have a shared experience through braille, light, and sound.
“What do you miss when losing your sight?
I miss seeing the stars at night.”
A common quote often said by visually impaired people.
What if we could bring the stars back to life?
The venue will be dark with low seating and will offer a whole sensory experience offering an inclusive experience for all. ON FOR 3 DAYS
As you step across the road there will be a beautiful mural that catches your eye! The Marie Costa Mural situated on Winston Churchill Avenue celebrates inspirational local community leader Marie Costa. Designed and implemented by Neequaye Dreph Dsane, it represents Marie who 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. She has been described as ‘formidable’, inspirational’, and ‘a doer’ and has worked tirelessly for decades to promote intercultural understanding. ON FOR 3DAYS
Your venture through the city of the We Shine festival means you will endeavor the Community In Motion project which is going to shine a large scale projection-mapped exhibition onto a site as you walk through the city. Designed by foursandeights and Pompey Banana Club who were part of the first light festival back in 2019, it is nice to see them back! Running for the whole 3 days, it is a chance to see great street art and design come together with a multiple screening of works including the collaboration with schools and the community. ON FOR 3 DAYS
Guildhall Walk offers a beautiful installation from Thomas Buckley which is called Butterflies and represents young people from Portsmouth and the surrounding areas and shows a reflection of their hopes for the future. Each butterfly represents a young member of the community. This project is located at the Astoria in Guildhall Walk. ON FOR 3 DAYS
As you hit Guildhall Square you will find hand-lettered custom illustrations with 12 book spines that form the stairs leading to Portsmouth’s Central Library. The stack of books crafted and designed by Harry Murr were chosen by the people of Portsmouth through an open poll. The idea to preserve the art of writing and celebrate the beauty of reading is a lovely touch and We Shine honours a selection of books that have touched the heart of Portsmouth. ON FOR 3 DAYS
On Commercial Road is a huge mural called 'The People's Park' which has involved Zoë Power and her team that have painted a colourful and welcoming mural to lead people to Victoria Park, Portsmouth. The park, which boasts a rich history, is a much loved green space in the centre of Portsmouth. Inclusivity and wellness are at the heart of the Park’s recent revival project, both values will be reflected in the mural design which promises to be joyous, vibrant and to embrace the diversity of Portsmouth residents. The mural will be a much-loved community landmark.
Through referencing the Park’s heritage colour palette, local plant life, the aviary and the iconic fountain, the hand painted mural will be truly unique to ‘The People’s Park’. This strap-line will be be proudly painted underneath ‘Victoria Park’, bold lettering that will sit central to the mural design. ON FOR 3 DAYS
Heading along from Guildhall Square and walking to Victoria Park you will be greeted by a light-art installation called ‘Rainbow in the Dark’. Created by Benjamin Clegg using laser light and projection and offering a wonderful kaleidoscope of colour, it is a must for all the family. ON FOR 3 DAYS
Another part of the light festival in Victoria Park involves Mark Anderson's 'Fireflies' which creates an enchanting installation of moving sound and light. Offering the illusion of fireflies and a display of flying dynamics to entice your visual mind and imagination. ON FOR 3 DAYS
Mark Anderson also has the Feather Dervishes project and shows a mesmerising, kinetic, light, and sound installation.
White goose feathers become whirling holographic like dancers continually changing their form as they delicately display their unique strength and suppleness, accompanied by a haunting, warbling acoustic sound, created by spinning whistles. ON FOR 3 DAYS
Getting in the festive mood you can then stop and watch the Christmas lights be switched on along Commercial Road at 6pm. Grab a nice drink and visit the Christmas cabin stalls there is along this stretch. With appearances from pantomime stars from the Kings Theatre production of ‘Jack & The Beanstalk’ and Love Island star Amy Hart plus the Lord Mayor, it is bound to bring a heartwarming Christmas experience. THURS ONLY
Walking the breadth of Commercial Road and crossing over to the old Sainsbury's site you will find yourself at the 'We Create Market'. Make sure you prepare and take some pennies to spend for lovely artisan Christmas presents from the best that Portsmouth has to offer with local artists, designers and artisans. If last year at the Debenhams site is anything to go by, expect amazing quality products and cool things to buy. ON FOR 3 DAYS
St Mary's church in Fratton has the Ship of the Gods by Heinrich and Palmer which is inspired by the Norse myth of Skidbladnir, a magical shape-shifting vessel. It is on for the whole 3 days from 5pm until 9pm and uses 3D laser scanning technology, film, and lighting effects to create and reimagine Skidbladnir at its best. There is no parking at the church so bear that in mind if travelling to get there. ON FOR 3 DAYS
If you want to make an evening of Fratton and what there is to explore there, you could spend Friday evening joining in the annual community lantern parade before heading to the church which will make this evening a very special part of the whole event.
The parade leaves from The Royal British Legion, arrival at 6.00pm for a prompt 6.30pm start, that leads you down Fratton Road to St Mary’s Church (Where you can then view the Ship of Gods). An enchanting evening of beautiful lanterns and inspiring drumming from Batala Samba Band all here in Fratton and run by Fratton Big Local (FBL)
A variety of fun, bright and beautiful lanterns are created by local people, families, school children and community groups in workshops run by Splodge Designs and they come together for a magical community lantern parade.
Everyone is welcome to make their own lantern at home and bring it along on the night (NO NAKED FLAMES PLEASE- BATTERY LIGHTS ONLY). FRI ONLY
Carrying on the Fratton journey there is a FREE live research and development project from Artgility exploring body movement and laser projections. This exploration includes different genres of dance, particularly Portsmouth’s maritime dance heritage and the modern dance forms of today. Other participants of the project include local dance groups and internationally renowned dance artists.
The public are invited to participate in mini-workshops and interact with the laser technology. This is on Friday and Saturday so you can include this in the lantern parade evening and make a full Fratton exploration of the area and the church activities. FRI AND SAT
There is also Animating Street Art from digital artist Thomas Buckley at St Mary's who explores emerging technologies in light mapping and has worked closely with two Portsmouth based street artists to augment and enchant their work with digital. Rumour has it that Roo Abrook will have her work here as part of this event.
Exploring how projection can reveal new potential for street artists and designing two new works that explore the strengths of both mediums. Artworks will be mapped live through the festival. ON FOR 3 DAYS
Back in the heart of the city at the Guildhall is The Imaginarium of Dreams by 1000 Plateaus which is an evening of audio-visual live performance, music, video, dance, theatre, and spoken word. An immersive encounter with light, sound, and imagination. Taking place at 7pm until 11pm FRI ONLY
The Pompey Heroes project by Portsmouth-based photographer Olufemi Olaiya will be at the Aspex Gallery based in Gunwarf Quays. It honours the brave key workers who volunteered and worked tirelessly at the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic to improve the lives of the people of Portsmouth.
Our lives have changed significantly since the Covid-19 outbreak and these pictures put a face to the efforts of those heroes, and show the ethnic, cultural and religious diversity of our city. The sitters included are uniform services, teachers, bus drivers, engineers, pharmacists and many more. Throughout the last 18 months Olufemi has created these amazing portraits, which have been displayed at key locations around Portsmouth including Palmerston road, Commercial Road, Cascades Shopping Centre and Fratton Road.
You might need to book FREE tickets in advance to this event so visit the website www.aspex.org.uk SAT ONLY
Why not spend your daytime doing a We Shine art trail around the city to see the fabulous art installations that have been implemented but will have longevity to the city by staying around long after the We Shine event has gone.
After leaving the Aspex you could walk to Portsmouth Harbour Train Station to see Ashley John's 'Home In The Heart' which shines a light on the literacy world and uses written word to engage the public. ‘Poetry Steps’ will inhabit the steps of the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour station for the duration of the festival. The poem by Ashley John and commissioned especially for the festival explores the idea of home within our much-loved city through a contemporary text-based installation.
You can then head to Upper Arundel Street to view the amazing wall mural 'Pompey Pelican' by Curtis Hylton who's commission pays homage to the seafront city’s flora and fauna, and showcases his astonishing ability to hand render light, shadow and detail on such a large scale.
Making your way down to Orchard Park where a huge renovation has just taken place of the park itself means you can catch the breathtaking work that has already happened as well as view the new installation by Dharma 77 called 'Proper Faces'. Dharma 77 has created a mural depicting characters and archetypes all observed by the artist in Portsmouth. The colour scheme evokes the familiar changing coastal light as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west of the island, across the faces representing a diverse collection of idiosyncratic, lairy, real, colourful people who are, like this island, a microcosm of Britain yet distinctly ‘Pompey’.
Once you have done the Aspex, grabbed lunch and pottered around the art trail pieces around the city, you can head back to the light festival in Victoria Park and go back to visit the stalls you wish you had bought something from on Thursday evening at the We Create Market. You can think about your favourite moments, collapse in a big heap on the sofa on Saturday night and take in the amazing cultural things you have seen over the 3 days!
This is my entire plan, it might be different to yours but I wanted to really show you how you can see it all in 3 days and not miss the highlights that are only there for one evening. I hope to see many of your faces over the event and hope you all enjoy this as much as I intend to!
You can find out more about each artist on the We Shine website which shows a bio and explains more about each artist. Some of the text of this piece has come from Portsmouth Creates to show you all that is on offer for the entire event.