Kelvin Sparks helps his grandson Luke Foord, 7, reach up to the light beams coming off a display at Light Nelson on Sunday. Photo: Phillip Rollo.

Light Nelson is ‘bigger and brighter’ than expected


Light Nelson, Nelson’s winter light festival, is bigger and brighter than even the organisers expected.

It’s the third time Nelson has produced the community-focussed, free festival of light, and Light Nelson Trust Chair Brian Riley says  the organisers are amazed at the event’s growth.

“We set out this year with 40 installations, and that number has now grown to 61 – partly thanks to the big response from NMIT Arts & Media students,” he said . “Also our internationally known invited artists, Daniel Belton and Jon Baxter are both presenting two works, and in both cases these are huge – Jon’s digital work will illuminate the whole front and side of the historic technical school building, while Daniel’s work will screen on the west wall of the NMIT library.”

Riley said while these works add to Light Nelson’s artistic standing, what’s really blown him away this year is the breadth of the community involvement.

“There are sewing sessions every Sunday where people are coming to help the Kayan community stitch LED lights into the ceremonial banners they have woven, the 80-strong Boathouse Choir is learning songs to back the Maori creation story told in laser illustrations by Nelson Intermediate kids, all over town there are children painting day-glow endangered birds on boxes for the Brook Sanctuary’s work Nocturnal, Waimea College kids are furthering their knowledge of physics with their Luminoscillator and we have illuminated papier mache puppets from the art centre for the disadvantaged.”

Riley said he was confident the event would be a great experience for everyone this year.

“We have increased the number of nights we’re on,  giving more options for people to attend. We are making more use of the NMIT campus as well as the Queens Gardens, we’re closing off part of Hardy Steet and will have a hub there with food stalls, and we’re printing a map that indicates the one way system through the installations  – this will be delivered to all homes with the city council’s next newsletter and will be available on our website and at the Light Nelson info-hub.”

Riley paid tribute to the sponsors and individuals who have helped to maintain Light Nelson as a free event.

“The essence of Light Nelson is that it is art for everyone so it’s really a must to keep it free,” he said.

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