Carla Rapoport, Lumen’s Director and Founder, reflects on Lumen’s recent show at Caerphilly Castle.
Filling the Great Hall of Caerphilly Castle, one of Europe’s oldest monuments, was one of the biggest challenges Lumen has ever faced. Happily, it all worked better than we could have hoped, aided by the stunning light installation of Flown by Esther Rolinson, this year’s 3D/Scultpure Award winner, and Nathan Selikoff’s extraordinary projection, Audiograph which allowed us to bring light, sound and action to the towering east wall of the Great Hall. (You can view all the works in action here.)
But the real highlight for me was the chance to interact with more than 750 members of the public over the show’s 6 days and to enjoy their incredible enthusiasm for the show. People would open the door of the Great Hall and some would say, “Oh, I’m not interested in art particularly.” But after they came in and started interacting with the work, we couldn’t get them to leave! Virtual Reality was a particularly huge hit, as was Yiannis Kranidiotis’ touchable sculpture, fittingly called Touch Me.
We were also honoured to welcome, on two separate days, refugee families from centres in Swansea, Newport and Cardiff who were given free access to the Castle to see the show and the castle itself. As one of the volunteers wrote us:
“Thank you …. everyone had a fantastic time. We had a full coach for this trip and to be honest it was difficult to discern what was enjoyed the most, the Lumen Prize digital art exhibition or exploring the amazing Caerphilly castle. The exhibition was great, especially as it was hands-on and people were encouraged to interact with the exhibits. “
She continued: “People eagerly queued to try the virtual reality headsets and to touch and play everything. I sat down outside at one point and marvelled at all our friends exploring the whole castle with heads popping up over battlements and turrets, folks running in and out of numerous doors and up and down towers at different levels and calling to each other excitedly through arrow-loops. I wish I'd set-up a tripod and made a time-lapse recording, it was a real joy to see. “
The marriage of digital art in a heritage location, it seems, is a natural. So we were also delighted to have the following feedback from Dr Ffion Reynolds, Heritage & Arts Manager of Cadw, Historic Environment Service: "We would love to have Lumen back at the castle next year, it was a fabulous event, and I think it could be expanded across the site even more.”
We definitely agree. And a big thank you to the Wales Arts Council and Cadw for making this show possible.