Skip to main content Skip to site map (in footer)

Illuminating Northampton

  • Date: 22 June 2010
  • Artform: Visual arts
  • Area: Midlands
Illumination Project, The Market Square Illumination Project, The Market Square, Keredy Stott

Northampton's historic Market Square has been transformed with state-of-the-art colour change LED lighting, giving the town a more vibrant, welcoming and safer space that can be enjoyed on the darkest of evenings.

Designed by nationally-renowned multimedia artist, Jo Fairfax, Square Light brings art and town regeneration together using colour change LED lights alongside unique animated projections. West Northamptonshire Development Corporation has invested £354,000, while Arts Council England has awarded £60,000 of funding to the project.

Two historical characters linked to the area, George Bernard Shaw and Francis Crick, will be seen strolling about and waving down to the people of Northampton from a ghostly balcony of the former Peacock Hotel - all projected on to the large windows of the modern Peacock Place shopping centre. The respectable fellows, Shaw and Crick, will also surprise audiences by bursting into modern ballet, the lindy-hop, afro-brazilian capoeira and the tango during the continuous three-hour film loop.

The historic buildings and the alleyways leading into the market square will be illuminated with the latest technologies in coloured computerised lighting, emphasising key features on the beautiful facades. The more modern buildings have been given a different treatment to make them more interesting - 'sparkles' will throw light in beautiful star-like shapes on the less detailed surfaces. Fourteen new lamp columns have also been installed around the edge of the square.

A changing colour palette has been programmed into the state-of-the-art system so that no hour will look the same throughout the whole year. The project will add to the atmosphere of any event in the Market Square but the system's flexibility means that distinctive themes are planned for seasonal days of the year - people may see a special red and white display for St George's day or pink for Valentine's day.

In addition to bringing a dramatic and welcoming effect to the centre of the town, the lighting is environmentally sustainable and will bring large energy savings, maintenance cost savings and crime reduction.

Sarah Reed, Relationship Manager Visual Arts at Arts Council England, said: 'Square Light is an excellent example of creative thinking about what art in public places can be. By providing the opportunity for an artist to work with the design right from the start, Square Light delivers a project that engages the public with their environment and provides an exciting and unique experience for everyone to enjoy.'