Art of light fantastic

Four lighting pylon designs for Blackpool Illuminations dating from the early 1930s, showing the incredible quality of the work. The drawings are now on display, along with Blackpool: the Winner (below) in Stanley Park Visitor Centre, until March 10 in an exhibition Art of the Light Fantastic.
Four lighting pylon designs for Blackpool Illuminations dating from the early 1930s, showing the incredible quality of the work. The drawings are now on display, along with Blackpool: the Winner (below) in Stanley Park Visitor Centre, until March 10 in an exhibition Art of the Light Fantastic.
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THEY are celebrating the art of the light fantastic, following on from last year’s centenary of the oldest and greatest public light show on earth.

How many of us give thought to the huge amount of work that goes on behind the scenes every season to stage Blackpool Illuminations?

Blackpool: The Winner was an Illuminations tableau created to celebrate Blackpool's 1953 FA Cup win. 'Now on display in Stanley Park Visitor Centre

Blackpool: The Winner was an Illuminations tableau created to celebrate Blackpool's 1953 FA Cup win. 'Now on display in Stanley Park Visitor Centre

The Art of the Light Fantastic, a new exhibition in the Stanley Park Visitor Centre, puts the focus firmly on the design aspect of this background work.

A series of images on display represent traditional hand drawn and painted designs for seafront tableaux and installations from the 1920s to the 1970s.

Outsourcing is nothing new to local authorities and before the Second World War, most of the design work was done outside the Illuminations department.

Among the striking images on show is one featuring four designs for lighting pylons dating from the early 1930s

Exhibition organiser Carl Carrington, Blackpool Council’s built heritage manager says: “These particular designs show the incredible quality of the work. The drawings were executed by Campbell Smith and Co. of London, who were important interior designers from the 1870s to the Second World War.”

Another image shows a brilliant example of how big events in the town were celebrated in light.

Blackpool: The Winner was a tableau created to celebrate Blackpool’s 1953 FA Cup win.

Carl says: “It was typical of a whole series of designs for installations and tableaux that celebrated all aspects of local life, but also commemorated great national events like royal jubilee years and coronations.”

The Art of the Light Fantastic is the first in a series of six exhibitions aimed at showcasing local collections – private and public – and raising awareness of what a rich history Blackpool has.

The images are all high quality copies of originals and there is a silent auction running so people can buy the images when the exhibition ends, with all money raised going to the Friends of the Illuminations.

This exhibition, which will be followed by one on Blackpool Winter Gardens, is open daily, 10am to 2pm, until Sunday January 28, as the Visitor Centre is also holding a public consultation about a new kiddies’ playground for Stanley Park. After that the exhibition can be viewed at weekends until March 10.

The images were discovered by Prof Vanessa Toulmin while researching for Blackpool Illuminations: The Greatest Free Show on Earth. The book is the last in the four part series on Blackpool’s entertainment heritage commissioned by Blackpool Council, and is available, price £25, at the Grundy Art Gallery or by ringing Jan Cresswell at Blackpool Council on (01253) 476332.

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