Lakes arts programme launches in dramatic display of light and colour

The Lakes Culture programme has launched an innovative programme of contemporary art experiences – known as #LakesIgnite – with a series of dramatic light installations across the Lake District until this Friday 6 May.

The Bank Holiday weekend saw Coniston Water take centre stage for three nights as artist Charles Monkhouse brought his ‘Seven Nocturnal Rainbows’ to the lake, before it moves on to Ullswater (Glencoyne Bay, 3/4 May) and Grasmere (near Daffodil Hotel, 5/6 May).

The spectacular light installation is inspired by JMW Turner’s famous painting ‘A Shower’ over Buttermere, and consists of up to 250 floating LED units – each with their own GPS sensor – which react to their location to create a gigantic spectrum of colour as they travel across the lakes. The exact motion of these electronic rainbows depends on the wind, with each passage of light lasting up to one and a half hours as night takes over from day.

Artist Charles Monkhouse, says, “I aim to make work that is locally distinctive and nationally significant, which appeals to a broad range of people. So ever since encountering Turner’s painting of a rainbow over Buttermere, I’ve been intrigued by the challenge of re-creating the rainbows on one of the English Lakes. A recent project allowed me to develop the technology and Lakes Ignite 2016 has now provided the venues!

Richard Foster, Chief Executive of the Brewery Arts Centre, says, “Lakes Ignite is all about creating exceptional experiences in exceptional landscapes. Charles Monkhouse’s Nocturnal Rainbows is a fantastic way to kick off the programme, celebrating the visual arts in a way that everyone can appreciate and giving visitors a dramatic taster of the unique cultural experience the Lake District can offer.

Aileen McEvoy, Lakes Ignite Curator, adds, “Lakes Ignite demonstrates how the Lake District has figured large with artists, writers, thinkers, photographers, performers and makers both past and present emphasising its importance within the UK’s cultural make-up.”

The Seven Nocturnal Rainbows for the English Lakes is just the first part of the #LakesIgnite programme, supported by United Utilities. Upcoming highlights also include:
• 6 – 8 May 2016 Museum of Water by artist Amy Sharrocks
• 14 & 21 May 21st Century Landscape Art Class by digital artist Joseph Connor

Lakes Ignite 2016 curator, Aileen McEvoy has also selected a range of significant cultural events to showcase as part of the #LakesIgnite programme. These include events to celebrate the 150th Beatrix Potter anniversary in the area she called home; the Freerange Comedy Festival; Keswick Jazz Festival; theatre by Melvyn Bragg and Howard Goodall; and thought-provoking exhibitions by Stuart Walker and British sculptor Laura Ford.

As well as developing information about key events, the Lakes Culture project team has devised a series of itineraries and downloadable resources for businesses, to encourage them to make the most of Cumbria’s cultural offer in driving growth for the visitor economy. To find out more, visit:


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Image – Nocturnal Rainbow at Coniston Water 2. Credit: Carl Whitham

More images available via dropbox:

• Lakes Culture aims to bring together the area’s tourism and cultural sectors to better promote the wealth of cultural activities on offer reaffirming the area as the UK’s leading rural cultural destination.
• The Lake District is one of only ten locations in the country to benefit from Cultural Destinations initiative a focused programme set up by Arts Council England and VisitEngland. The aim of Cultural destinations is to enable arts and culture organisations working in partnership with destination organisations to increase their reach, engagement and resilience through working with the tourism sector. Closer working between the two sectors will contribute to the economic growth of the cultural and tourism visitor economies.
• Organisations involved in the project include Kendal Brewery Arts Centre (Lead Organisation), Lakeland Arts, The Wordsworth Trust, Theatre by the Lake, The Forestry Commission – Grizedale, Cumbria Tourism, The National Trust, Lake District National Park, South Lakeland District Council and Lake District Summer Music.
• The Lakes Culture project forms a supporting strand of the World Heritage Status bid submitted by the Lake District National Park Partnership. For more information visit:

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