ON: A Re-Imagining of Blackpool Illuminations

BlackpoolArt & Culture

ON: A Re-Imagining of Blackpool Illuminations

seaside resort's iconic attraction enters the art world...

The windswept seaside resort of Blackpool wears many hats. The Kiss Me Quick variety of saucy postcards. Cowboy Stetsons of the hen party gaggle. Granddad’s knotted hanky as he sits cooking in his deckchair.

The cheap foreign package holiday has undoubtedly delivered a blow to the town’s tourism since its heyday, and it will never be Paris, no matter how many facsimile Eiffel Towers they put up. Booze, blokes, birds, and boy-racers abound. But one family-friendly attraction that keeps the crowds flocking back is the famous Blackpool Illuminations, and with the opening of a new exhibition celebrating 100 years of the annual display, its popularity shows no signs of dimming.

Re-Imagining Blackpool Illuminations

Artist Brian Griffiths has been commissioned to take us on a perfectly-lit trip down memory lane. What images does the Illuminations bring to mind for you? The Edwardians, promenading on the promenade, propriety and politeness, bustles and bristling whiskers; the post-war sweethearts, ice creams and bicycle clips; the Jenkins in their Austin Allegro, fish and chips all round – the Illuminations have lit them all. Now it’s time for the spotlight to turn inwards with ON: A Re-imagining of Blackpool Illuminations.

Griffiths’ challenge was to bring the iconic displays from the infinite space of the great outdoors into a gallery. In this project he uses the nature of interiors, the corners and shadows, to create an immersive experience for the viewer. We think you’ll agree, the results are pretty bulb-blowing. You can almost feel the bracing North Sea lapping at your ankles, and hear the screech of the seagulls as you walk through the gallery. An art nouveau octupus lamp recalls the Illuminations early days, and Griffiths, with his aforementioned sparing use of space, has created something really striking with his man in the moon.

With national pride at an all-time high thanks to the Jubilympics, what better time to switch on to the marvels of one of the great British institutions? Get yourselves to Blackpool’s Grundy Gallery before July 28.

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Photography by Jonathan Lynch