A Volunteer’s Experience

Walking into the dazzling installation of Ron Haselden’s Luminary is going to be extra special for those involved in the installation which happened at the end of March. I was lucky enough to be involved and felt really privileged to work alongside such a generous and insightful artist on this incredible piece.

I’ve never worked on such a large scale installation before, and I have to admit it was somewhat daunting at first. My previous experience consisted in setting up my illustration exhibition at college (small, paper based) and a bit of home improvement (large, paint based). So making large scale reconstructions of tiny intricate doodles with LED light rope, using only electrical tape and cable ties (and sometimes a pair of pliers), needed some steep learning. To set us off, Ron let us see the original plans before unveiling a beautiful delicate wire maquette, which gave us something to aspire to, whilst Gary (Ron’s brilliant right hand man) showed us the technique and gave us some practical advice.

After unravelling the light rope in great glowing lengths throughout the aisles, and making the interior of Fabrica resemble the week after Christmas, we paired up and got down to work. It must be said that wrestling a stubborn length of light rope round a piece of steel whilst your companion lassos it into submission is a fast way of getting to know someone! We were grateful for the restorative power of coffee and the stress relieving benefits of cracking walnuts (imported direct from Ron’s French orchards).

Understanding the subtleties of the LED medium (if I can call it that) was fascinating. Straight lines are obviously easiest but creating the sometimes wobbly, unsure quality of the drawings was more challenging but also incredibly absorbing. When a line break was needed we wrapped opaque black electrical tape around the rope before planning where to re-emerge without too much of a bend (not good news when using brittle wire). As each drawing needed to be made with one continuous length of light rope, planning the route proved itself to be a skill in itself. Whilst some drawings (the glorious curly haired face at the entrance) lent themselves naturally to the looping curling quality of the plastic, others (the scratchy delicate writing on the wall) were more resistant. However, I think the final result was worth every sworn oath and scratch and I hope it’s everything Ron envisaged. It was such a inspiring experience to work with Ron and Gary and the Fabrica team, and finding out how much care and thought goes into the work behind the scenes at Fabrica was a privilege.

Nina Cornwall

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