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Bright students shine at York light festival

Designs by local school pupils took centre stage at illuminating York, as their work was used by the Society of Light and Lighting (SLL) to show four famous York landmarks in a new light.

Students from York College, Fulford School, St Wilfrid's RC Primary School and The Mount School took part in SLL workshops last month in which they received hands-on lessons about the art and science of light. Their resulting designs were then put before a panel of judges, with the winners used to illuminate St Leonard’s Hospital, St Michael-Le-Belfrey, Exhibition Square and the Multangular Tower in the city’s Museum Gardens.

St. Leonard's Hospital Site -Pockets of Light, Illuminating York. Design by York College. Photo: LPA Lighting

The students had the opportunity to create their designs at a series of workshops created by the SLL called ‘Pockets of Light’, in which the society visited each school to demonstrate the science behind lighting and its potential to create artistic designs. 

The workshops were also intended to help the students re-think places in their own city, which could be transformed using creative lighting design.

The displays were part of the SLL’s contribution to the illuminating York festival, during which landmarks around the city are lit by artistic lighting designers to allow visitors to experience them in a completely new way. The project comes on the anniversary of the SLL’s Night of Heritage Light, when the Society lit 9 UNESCO World Heritage Sites around the UK. 

Exhibition Square site - Pockets of Light, Illuminating York. Design by St. Wilfred's Primary School. Photo: LPA Lighting

Alexandra Cornel Atkinson, a 2nd year student on a production arts programme at York College who attended the workshop ‘Introduction to architectural lighting’, said: “I found the workshop interesting, learning about how architectural lighting has similarities to theatrical lighting, also the use of additive colour mixing with red, green and blue LEDs and white LEDs and the way they produce wonderful subtle hues that I will continue to use on other installations and productions.”

Jane Conway, Head Teacher of St Wilfrids, said "St Wilfrid's was delighted to take part in the Illuminating York project. The challenge of designing a light display for a section of the city walls not only captured the imagination of our Year 6s, it also gave them an exciting, hands-on science experience to remember."

St Michael le Belfrey site - Pockets of Light, Illuminating York. Design by The Mount School. Photo: LPA Lighting

Dan Bodey, Deputy Head of Fulford School, said: “This was a fantastic activity that engaged and inspired our students. The chance to learn new skills, rooted in such a high profile in our city was a real opportunity. We targeted our female scientists to respond to an ongoing need to encourage this cohort nationally to be exposed to scientific careers and activities - they loved it. Thank you to all involved in offering this activity and particularly the fabulous trainers”

Jeff Shaw, President of the Society of Light and Lighting, said: “We are delighted to have had the opportunity to work with students in York to create these spectacular designs for illuminating York, and also to have had the opportunity to demonstrate the exciting potential of light as an art and a science.

“Light is an important part of how we experience the world around us, and by working with the students to light their own city we are also helping them to think differently about the spaces around them. The designs the students created were fantastic, and I’d like to congratulate them on their hard work.”

Multi-Angular Tower site - Pockets of Light, Illuminating York. Design by Fulfords School. Photo: LPA Lighting

The students’ work is visible as part of illuminating York from 26th – 29th of October, and will be on free public display along with the rest of the displays created for the festival. A full list of the sites and the school that designed them is: St Leonards – York College, Multangular Tower – Fulford School, St Michaels – The Mount School, Exhibition Square – St Wilfrid’s RC Primary School.

Each of the 87 pupils/students that took part in the workshops will receive an Arts Award Discover certificate. Arts Award is an Arts Council England initiative that inspires young people to grow their arts and leadership talents. You can find out more via 

They will also receive a Digital Adventurers certificate - a scheme developed with The Guild of Media Arts via York's designation as a UNESCO City of Media Arts. The Digital Adventurers scheme aims to support and develop the next generation of talent across a range of digital and media art forms - more information via