Wellington Street Underpass
From drab and dingy to bright and brilliant, we transformed it into a tunnel of light.
The Wellington Street Underpass project took place over several months in 2019 as part of our young people’s programme.
We gave young Lutonians aged 16 to 24 the opportunity to collaborate with leading light artist Jack Wates to create a site-specific artwork that would transform a subway in the town centre — Wellington Street Weave.
Jack worked closely with young people to give voice to their ideas and develop an innovative design that gave the underpass a distinctive sense of Luton’s identity.
The workshops were designed to let young people engage with a range of design methodologies throughout various stages of the project. They began on-site by surveying the tunnel and then explored potential patterns and lighting configurations through a series of drawing exercises.
They created a scale model to test different designs and decided on a sculptural weave of conduit, with interlocking diagonals on the ceiling that become parallel vertical drops on the sidewalls.
In the second set of workshops, young people engaged in the practice of lighting design. Working with innovative lighting products from Italian lighting company Reggiani (their 'Cells luminaires'), they explored many different configurations of colours, optics and diffusers.
In the workshops, young people also explored colour mixing by affixing coloured gels to the front of each of the reflectors. The aim was to produce white light in the space while producing coloured shadows on the walls and ceiling. As the tunnel fills up with people, the strength and saturation of the coloured shadows increases as the fixtures are blocked by people’s presence.
The formal opening of the installation was celebrated with a festival — #BeLitLuton — which was devised and delivered by young people.
Luton’s community was invited to enjoy the rejuvenated space with dance, music and spoken word performances by Luton’s young talent.
“Congratulations on the Light Work on the Wellington Street underpass. It's a pleasure walking through there, as I quite often do. 🙂” - member of the public
- Reinvigorated the Wellington Street underpass, bringing daily pleasure to passersby (see quote)
- Created a local landmark that has been inspired by the ideas and vision of young people across the town.
- Developed young people’s creative skills and experience.
- Brought together young people from across the town to work on a creative project.
- Raised young people’s creative aspirations by working with an innovative light artist.
- Encouraged young people to take pride in their town and feel a sense of ownership and agency by transforming their environment.
This project was run by Revoluton Arts as part of the Many Voices, One Town campaign working in partnership with the Building a Stronger Britain Together programme, Luton Borough Council and Luton in Harmony.