Artist Chris lighting way for Jubilee celebrations

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ARTIST Chris Oakley’s work has been displayed as far afield as Moscow, Los Angeles and Madrid.

Now the 39-year-old is relishing the prospect of lighting up an iconic site much closer to home – the summit of Moel Famau.

Chris has been commissioned to design and oversee the celebrations of the 200th anniversary of the Jubilee Tower, the highest spot in the Clwydian Range.

Centrepiece of the display will be a powerful beam of light radiating from the tower, designed in part to replicate the original design.

Chris, from Coedpoeth, was asked to come up with an imaginative project focusing on the tower this October – and he jumped at the chance.

He said: “I spent much of my childhood in Broughton, so Moel Famau is something of a personal beacon to me, especially as my father used to fly model planes up
there.

“The view across the Vale of Clwyd provides a unique sense of time.”

Chris, who moved back to North Wales with his family in 2005 after living in Oxford and London, studied art and design in NEWI before gaining a degree in fine art at the University of Wolverhampton.

Over the past 10 years he has had numerous exhibitions and commissions, many of them in dramatic locations and marking special events.

He said: “Each one is different, but this one presents a special challenge – partly because it is so far from a road, which presents problems for transporting heavy equipment.

“The brief I was given was to use light in some way and to come up with something with which the public could engage. The concept itself came together quite quickly but the logistics are taking some working on.”

In keeping with the environment at the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the generator powering the display will be run on recycled bio-fuel and produce 2-7 kilowatts, roughly the same range as required for a lighthouse.

The summit of Moel Famau can often be shrouded in mist but Chris believes the changing light will add to the dramatic effect.

“The work will involve the reinstatement of the collapsed portion of the Jubilee Tower with a beam of light visible for many miles during the hour of darkness,” he explained.

“In fact a little bit of bad weather will help the intensity of the beam, but the effect will be different as the weather and daylight change.”

Over the coming weeks Chris will be holding public consultation sessions in towns and villages on both sides of the Clwydian Range to gather comments, anecdotes and data about the Jubilee Tower from people of all ages.

The public will be able to contribute to an online record.

Schools in Flintshire and Denbighshire will also be involved, and the final result will be an audio-visual display projected on to one of the walls of the tower, probably that on the westerly side.

Chris said: “The spirit of innovation evident in the original design for the tower by architect Thomas Harrison – the tower was the first Egyptian revival building in Britain – will be carried forward with this project.

“I have always been interested in multimedia projects and this will build on my experience of large-scale projections, including outdoor projections with which I was especially active in 2004-2005.

“During that period I produced projections for urban sites at the Nuit Blanche night-time festival in Paris and LA Freewaves Festival in Los Angeles.

“It’s great to be doing a project on this scale so close to home as I don’t even get to see some of the international projects I am involved with after designing them.”

- The anniversary display, including the soaring beam, will continue for about a week after October 25. For more information go to www.jubileetower200.co.uk

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