Thursday 12 February 2015

Light Fever: Teenagers Create New Art Exhibition

Fort Nelson is a Victorian Fort, situated on the top of Portsdown Hill, overlooking Portsmouth, a town with a great naval history. It is a national monument and has been restored to the condition it would have been in a hundred and ten years ago, in the 1890s. Fort Nelson houses the Royal Armouries, Britain's national collection of arms and armour.

Spinning Wave

For the last few months, Fort Nelson has opened its doors to a group of teenage artists who have been working on an exciting art project in light graffiti, which they have called, Light Fever. The art was inspired by the architecture and artefacts of the fort. Light Fever is part of the Artswork, Strong Voices programme, a two year programme funded by the Department of Education. As well as the images displayed in the Fort Nelson gallery, the teenagers produced a moving soundscape, using a poem by the First World War Poet, Gilbert Frankau.

The teenagers were supported in their work by many people and organisations: Artswork; Portsmouth Autism Support Network; the staff of Fort Nelson; Butterfly FX digital artists; and Ben Claydon, freelance creative. The teenagers would like to thank Gilbert Frankau's grandson and literary executor for permission to use his poem. The four teenagers doing the Silver Arts Award also want to thank Jo, Ursula and Eileen, our wonderful mums for their help and support.

Jack Halsall is one of the teenagers who has participated in the Light Fever project. He supplied the information above and the rest of the blog is a question and answer session with him.

Question: I love the artwork you have produced and the soundscape is incredible. Did you have fun doing the art and making the soundscape?

Answer: Yes, it was a lot of fun. I loved messing around with the lights and I was surprised afterwards by how good they looked.

Question: When you started this project, several months ago, did you realise how much hard work was involved?

Answer: I knew it was going to be a lot of work but there was a bit more work than I was expecting and some of the things, like putting up the exhibition, took a lot longer than I expected.

Question: Which bit of the creative project did you enjoy most?

Answer: Taking the pictures and then seeing how they looked afterwards and choosing which which ones to include in the exhibition.

Question: There are lots of different styles of light graffiti in the different pictures, did you need to use different techniques to get these effects?

Answer: Yes, for some of the pictures we used stencils, and for others outlining objects and freestyle, which was basically just throwing lights around and seeing what they looked like afterwards.

Question: Which technique did you most enjoy doing and do you think it was the most effective?

Answer: The most fun was freestyle. Stencils were the trickiest to do, but if they were done correctly they were the most effective.

Question: When people (like me) who don't know a lot about digital art, look at the final images, we don't really understand how much work has gone into it at the editing stage. Tell me about what happens between the camera and the finished project.

Answer: I'd like to use the image of the skull as an example. We took lots of photos of the skull with different lights (some red, some green, some white) and then we merged them together when we were editing and it was really effective. I enjoy using Photoshop to edit and enhance images.

The Skull of Death

Question: Have you been tempted to experiment with any light graffiti by yourself, away from the project?

Answer: Yes. I did some light graffiti with my grandfather, which was great fun. Although he didn't have the high-tech equipment that we could use for Light Fever, we still produced some epic pictures using his camera and glow-sticks.

Question: What did you find especially inspiring about creating art in Fort Nelson and the Royal Armouries?

Answer: The tunnels were wonderful places to do light graffiti. Not only were they really dark but also they were full of atmosphere and the feeling of being very old. We had a lot of fun with the old skull and produced a brilliant piece of artwork. We also used swords and armour. My favourite one was when it looked as though electric was coming out of the sword.

Question: I understand that, as individuals, you have been looking at other light graffiti artists. Who on the contemporary light graffiti art scene do you admire most?

Answer: I really admire Michael Bosanko. I love the way he uses his surroundings and makes the inside of a building look as if it's in a different dimension. I also like the circles he uses in the landscape, which look like portals. My favourite thing about his work is his use of modern images: he did a Dalek and Pac Man, before I saw Bosanko's Pac Man, I did a very different one and I did the Minecraft Creeper.

Question: The poem used for the soundscape was beautifully read and the sound effects supplied by the rest of the group were very effective. The poem was written in the First World War by Gilbert Frankau and I thought it was perfect for an exhibition at the Royal Armouries. Is it true that Gilbert Frankau's grandson, who gave permission for the poem to be used, may visit the exhibition?

Answer: We have invited him to join us at the Private View and we hope very much that he will come.

Question: You were part of the team that put up the art exhibition in the gallery at Fort Nelson. How did that go?

Answer: It went well and we all had a lot of fun, but it did take a lot of time and a lot of argument of what should go where. At one point there was a danger of my Creeper picture being mounted upside down.

Question: How did you feel when you saw the final exhibition?

Answer: I was impressed by how good it looked. For the first time I could see it as a professional exhibition. I feel very proud of it and so were the other people who were putting it up.

The Creeper

Question: Of all your images, which is your favourite?

Answer: The Creeper. I like the way it is coming towards the viewer. I'm really pleased with the way that it worked out. I hope lots of people come to our exhibition and enjoy it.

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