Beacon of Hope –  an international light art co-creation

How can cities adapt to changing social and environmental contexts? Light festivals can be fantastic spaces to reflect, test and cooperate on what is coming up next.

Light festivals continue to multiply around the world but are now facing challenges of remaining unique among such an array of festivals, pushing the boundaries of light art as an artform, and addressing the crucial need to be more sustainable. These questions are at the heart of discussions within LUCI, and especially its Light Festival Working Group.

Exchanges between some of the most advanced light festivals, including GLOW in Eindhoven (NL), City of Light in Jyväskylä (FI), and Fête des Lumières in Lyon (FR), led to the idea of developing a co-creation light art project. Craig Morrison is the lead artist, working closely with local teams for each part of the installation. LUCI is involved to document the process and share best practices and lessons learnt within its network and beyond.

From this international dialogue, “Beacon of Hope” has emerged; a new adventure to explore how cities work together to create a light art project that considers the local context but also the ability to sustainably travel and flourish in the other partner cities.

Thus, Beacon of Hope is not only international with a co-creation and cooperation approach, but also inspires answers to the current sustainability challenge, in terms of construction and transport, and weaves together local traditions with global aspirations.

In addition, the local participatory elements will involve strong educational components that help build awareness about lighting and give community members the opportunity to interact with the art work, play and learn with light. All in all, Beacon of Hope is an artwork made by the people for the people.   

📆 Beacon of Hope

Inaugurated 29 September-9 October 2022Jyväskylä, Finland

12-19 November 2022- GLOW, Eindhoven, The Netherlands 

8-11 December 2022- Fête des Lumières, Lyon, France

Artistic Intent

Beacon of Hope is designed to be made by the local people, made from sustainably sourced materials, and enhanced by local artists and the local creative community. Wood, the main structural material for Beacon of Hope, allows people to think creatively with a readily available resource. Wood requires much less power to process. As timber grows, it absorbs CO2, unlike aluminum or steel, which create CO2 in their manufacturing process. The idea behind Beacon of Hope is to encourage experimentation and hands-on experience. Local participants must help build the installation; they can also propose to adapt and create something unique, which is time and site-specific. 

I tried to think of a way of bringing people together to celebrate the making of a light festival, so bringing a folk element seemed interesting and correct at this moment in time. The Beacon’s central structure is bound together by a large group performing a folk dance, weaving a pattern together. Art and culture are powerful and can create a dialogue with citizens. As Joseph Beuys believed, everyone is an artist, and social sculpture can shape social change. And now, more than ever, we need to change.”

Craig Morrison, Beacon artist

Working with natural materials rather than just reaching for steel or aluminum add an extra challenge, but is essential for ensuring that the project maintains its sustainability goals. Wood is a living material that needs to be treated with understanding and consideration; the temperatures and conditions must be considered before each set-up. At this moment in time, with droughts and the fires in Europe, it is essential to consider materials very carefully. 

Beacon of Hope inaugurated in Jyväskylä

Beacon of Hope has landed at its first stop for the City of Light event in Jyväskylä, Finland!

The City of Jyväskylä is honoured to be the first city to present Beacon of Hope. It has been an exciting journey and process, from brainstorming together with two other cities, listening to the artist’s ideas and watching all of this come to life. It was great to see the joy in people’s faces as local participants took part in the weave dance and put the final touches on the installation. We are sure that cooperation with different festivals is the future and we look forward to being a part of that.

Elisa Hillgen, City of Light Coordinator, City of Jvyäskylä

After a few setbacks due to custom delays at the port, the main travelling Beacon of Hope structure landed safely in Jyväskylä, and artist Craig Morrison was able to begin the setup with the local team to build the dome frame. Following this, a “ribbon weaving dance” workshop took place with 40 local participants. The artwork would not exist without this essential element of local participation for weaving the top section.

Following the isolation in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Craig Morrison wanted to offer a contemporary take on a traditional folk practice, a way for people to reconnect and come together again. The ribbon weaving is a wonderful way to create community involvement. As the project builds and travels to other festivals, further layers of social interactions will be included. The local creative development, reflecting the local people, coming together to celebrate light and feel connected to the festival, is the most important element of this artwork.

Craig Morrison shares: “The project took on a whole new energy when the local participants arrived. There were many discussions about how to proceed, and the fun and joy for everyone involved was a great success. Instructions were boomed through a loudspeaker, and the local community, intrigued by what was happening, began to move the ribbons in and out of each other. There was a collaborative and relaxed atmosphere as Finnish instructions were relayed. Watching the people effectively play together to make the community social sculpture was brilliant.”

Testimonials from Jyväskylä local participants who helped with the ribbon weave dance: 

“It was a joy to be part of this, thank you!”

“This was such a fun thing to make and luckily we had a beautiful day for this. It was also great to meet new people.”

“It was wonderful to participate in community art, a completely new experience for me. Spinning around was fun, and meeting people you “already got to know” again and again, round after round, was great. The best part was seeing the final result lit up after dark, it’s wonderful, and at the same time experiencing the joy of being able to participate in its creation.”

“An incredibly nice thing!! I attended with my daughter. At first, I thought it would be difficult, but I received good instructions. People were in a good mood; it was a wonderful feeling to make art together. It felt especially great when the artist was involved. The end result was wonderful and even more beautiful in the dark.”

Beacon of Hope is on view in Jyväskylä from 29 September 2022 to 9 October 2022 and will next travel to GLOW Eindhoven in November, then to Fête des Lumières Lyon in December.

Beacon at GLOW Eindhoven!

Follow the journey of “Beacon” – an international light art co-creation as it opens for its second iteration in GLOW light festival.

Here at GLOW, through social interaction and the efforts of the students of the ROCTerAA and studio Kim Haagen, Beacon has been given an angular exterior where the lines are illuminated by black light.

“Beacon” evolves in each city it travels to as local artists and local participants are involved with its construction in preparation for the festival.

Beacon is on view at the GLOW festival from 12-19 November 2022. It will then travel to the Fête des Lumières Lyon from 8-11 December. Learn more about Beacon during the Lyon Light Festival Forum, too!

Nederland, Eindhoven, November 2022. ‘Beacon’ door Craig Morisson & Atelier MCFW, during the annual Glow Festival in Eindhoven. GLOW Eindhoven / Bart van Overbeeke

Light can be a “Beacon of Hope”

Are light festivals still sustainable ? What is the future of Light festivals ?  Light can be a “Beacon of Hope”!

In the LUCI network, we are proud to have supported the artwork of Craig Morrison & Émilien Guesnard with 3 pioneering cities (City of Jyväskylä; GLOW Eindhoven and City of Lyon) during the Fête des Lumières in Lyon, 8-11 December 2022.

This really shows the power of international cooperation when it is activated by passionate, hard working, creative and fun people!

This is perhaps one of the potential futures for light festivals, to be more sustainable: internationally cooperative, locally participative, “made by people for people”, low consumption, circular and inclusive in its conception. Get to know more here (credit Euronews Culture, story by Patricia Tavares).

About the artist:

Craig Morrison is a Scottish Artist and Festival Director who has developed a multi-disciplinary practice; he is also a longtime LUCI member. He has become increasingly interested in introducing more sustainable ways of working. He often instigates collaborations between artists from different disciplines, leading to a more interesting and compelling result. Developing fine art in the public realm using light and technology is central to his projects. He has created festivals in the UK, Australia, and Asia.


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