Pop-up art installation to light up Burnley town centre

A “pop-up” art installation will stir the imagination and catch the eye of visitors to Burnley town centre over the coming weeks.

The work is the culmination of creative output produced by local artists in conjunction with a range of young children, asylum seekers and adults with learning disabilities over a series of workshops held earlier this year.

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The six-week arts “pop-up” will help light up the town centre and be a fitting extension of the Light Nights held in Burnley before the Covid pandemic prevented the project from being repeated.

The six-week arts “pop-up” installation, which is called Under One Sky, will run until the end of August

The name of the show will be Under One Sky and runs until the end of August. The public can view the artwork in the shop window of 117 St James’s Street, (next to Marks and Spencer).

Burnley’s arts engagement officer Rachel Hawthorn said: “A lot of hard work has gone into creating some wonderful artwork which will help brighten up Burnley town centre and make a brilliant backdrop for visitors and shoppers.

“We want to make a visit to Burnley exciting and intriguing and showcase the imagination and hard work of local people of all ages and backgrounds.”

For several years up until 2019 Burnley Light Night was held in early December. Each year built upon the success of the past and the 2019 event was a great success, with hundreds of residents taking part and hundreds more enjoying the event as spectators.

The pandemic put the brakes on that momentum and the big plans for the 2020 event had to be put on hold.

"Obviously there have been many challenges going forward with how to make public events safe and enjoyable again,” added Rachel. “We considered our options and planned to deliver Covid-safe events that would still involve local people but without the large scale gathering of our previous parades.”

Last year, the organisers raised £15,000 from Arts Council England, along with contributions from Burnley Council, Burnley Bid, and Burnley Leisure and Culture to take the project forward.

Since the start of this year the group behind the arts project has been working with community groups and schools, using the same theme of Under the Night Sky, and with the added element of considering what the pandemic has meant to us all and how we can find unity in testing times.

Young people, asylum seekers and adults with learning disabilities have been working with poet Amy Tempest and visual artists at Burnley Youth Theatre to express their experiences through words and patterns.

Ridgewood Community School pupils teamed up with musicians from Mr Wilson’s Second Liners to learn new tunes and hone their performance skills, with the aim to perform at future Light Night events.

Three local artists – Jai Redman, Fiona Hornby and Sophie Gibson – have been commissioned to create light inspired artworks, reflecting on the theme of unity under the night sky and their own experiences of surviving the pandemic as artists. Burnley College arts students have worked with professional artists to produce new artworks on the same theme.

Organisers are also looking at possibilities for taking Burnley Light Night forward and would love to hear the public’s views on this.

Email Rachel Hawthorn, Burnley’s Arts Engagement Officer at [email protected] for more information and to find out how you can get involved in future events.