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A temporary light art installation by artist Emma Smith will be on display at The Fitzwilliam Museum from the 19th to the 24th February.  Consisting of two works, one outside and one inside the museum, this new artwork has been created following a programme of workshops with local groups over 2018.

The new work called “We” takes its inspiration from the proposal by Jean-Luc Nancy that “we are” – that we exist through relationship, coupled with a symbolic play on the letters used to denote electricity from which this work is made.

The project has been developed with support from a Cambridge City Council public art grant, ARM, the Learning Department at the Fitzwilliam Museum, the e-Luminate Studio and Cambridge Live, and and will be launched with a special event as part of Twilight at the Museum.

Emma Smith was selected as the lead artist on this project for her social and participatory practice. Based at Wysing Arts Centre in Bourn, she works internationally, creating installations and performances that explore the nature of human relationship and communication. Her work offers unique experiences with and for the public and is developed in collaboration with local communities, academics and professionals. Previous exhibitions include Tate Modern, Barbican, Bluecoat and Hauser & Wirth with new work also commissioned for the recent reopening of Kettles Yard in 2018.

Emma Smith says: “This has been a really exciting opportunity to work with the medium of light, to consider the potential for conversations to be carried through this material.”

Poster for the “We” project at the Big Weekend workshops

The work evolved through public engagement activities developed by the artist in collaboration with educator Hilary Cox-Condron for Arbury Carnival, The Big Weekend and workshops with Chesterton Community College, North Cambridge Academy and the Asian Women’s Network.

Manchester based light artist Liz West, renowned for mixing luminous colour, has been sharing her light art tips with Emma in an ongoing conversation on light art in public spaces.

Alessandra Caggiano, Founder of e-Luminate Cambridge and the instigator behind this public art project, says: “It has been my pleasure to spark a conversation between these two talented contemporary British female artists in dialogue with the city of Cambridge. The City Council is to be commended for its vision in making this project take place.”

Entry at The Fitzwilliam Museum is free.

The installation will be on display from 19th– 24th February.

A day of special events on 20th February include:

  • Artist Talk 13:15 – 14:00
  • Launch event with local participants 15:30 – 16:30
  • Public launch as part of Twilight at the Museum 16:30 onwards

The work inside the museum will be accessible during normal opening hours. The work outside the museum will be lit up from 10am-10pm. Entry at The Fitzwilliam Museum is free.

Miranda Stearn at The Fitzwilliam says: ‘We were pleased to have the opportunity to work with Emma Smith and Hilary Cox-Condron on a project which created opportunities for local people to input thoughts and ideas into a contemporary light work for public display. The project sparked intriguing conversations about identity and community, as the project groups explored connections with each other and with objects in the Museum’s vast and varied collection. We are looking forward to participants coming back to share the finished work with family and friends.’

The programme is funded with S106 grant funding from Cambridge City Council.

Councillor Katie Thornburrow, Executive Councillor for Streets and Open Spaces says, “The Council is delighted to support this project developed through public engagement, which is the essence of what public art should be and by Emma Smith, a talented Cambridge artist.

For more information please email