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Magic of NPDC’s TSB Festival of Lights inspires artists




Seed and Nebula Now are new to this year’s TSB Festival of Lights
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Arielle Walker and Jasmine Grace have vivid memories of visiting NPDC’s TSB Festival of Lights as kids and being captivated by the magic of the lights.

Now they say they have come ‘full circle’ with a return to the Pukekura Park event as the artists and designers of two light installations at this season’s festival.

Arielle, co-designer and co-creator of Nebula Now, grew up in Auckland but would take a trip to the “magical” festival each year while visiting her dad’s hometown and staying with her grandparents for the summer.

“The glow stones specifically stuck as an image in my head,” Arielle says. “I remember taking them home and couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t work anymore. It made the park seem like such a magical place and it was very cool as a kid to have that experience.”

Arielle created Nebula Now with partner Liam Mullins and it features above the glow stones which are back at the Festival this season. “When we created Nebula Now all I could think of was this magical experience as a kid and wanting to recreate that feeling in an installation,” Arielle says.

The installation is a chandelier created from repurposed, recycled Perspex materials and keychains and is illuminated by a UV black light which gives it a surreal, glowing appearance.

“I remember saying to Liam if I could have this showing at Taranaki it would be the most incredible feeling. When I saw the open call go out I was so excited, because the Festival was exactly what the work was made for in my head. It felt like the perfect full circle,” she says.

Jasmine, co-designer and co-creator of light installation Seed, grew up in New Plymouth in a family of artists. Her recollections of the Festival are associated with a family ritual of visiting the homes strung with Christmas lights, before going to the Festival “as a finale”.

Seed was designed and created by Jasmine, Rachel Neser and Molly Brankin during their studies at Massey University, and the concept of the piece is inspired by nature’s stages of bloom and decay. The artwork is made up of a fine chicken wire that becomes invisible in darkness. It is then lit by a projection of digitally-edited video footage of flowers blooming.

It was Jasmine’s tutor Antony Nevin who encouraged the artists to submit their artwork to the Festival. Jasmine travelled back to New Plymouth from Wellington to help with the installation of Seed last month.

“I’m really glad I got to go along and install it. It felt like so much more of a success, and standing there thinking ‘I remember this place as a little girl’ was a cool feeling,” says Jasmine.

NPDC Recreation and Culture Manager Teresa Turner said it was fantastic that the TSB Festival of Lights was now inspiring a new generation of artists and designers.

“We’ve had 10 new installations this season including these great designs by Arielle and Jasmine,” she says. “We’re delighted to see home-grown talent coming through with original ideas that keep the Festival fresh for the 125,000 who visit Pukekura Park each season.”

Seed and Nebula Now are on display in Pukekura Park until Sunday 3 February.

Festival facts

• The TSB Festival of Lights runs for seven weeks each summer and is seen by 125,000 visitors.

• The lighting route is 3.5 kilometres of walkways through Pukekura Park.

• The lights are on for 49 nights.

• More than 22 staff and volunteers work behind the scenes each night at the festival.

• It takes five weeks to install route lighting, speciality light installations and cabling through the park for the festival.

• Last season’s festival added nearly $5 million in value to the Taranaki economy and brought in 9,600 visitors to New Plymouth.

• More than 55 members of the community have volunteered their time to help festival visitors find their way around the event.

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