Chauvet illuminates Jamaica’s national heroes
Thursday, 5 November 2020
jamaicas-national-heroes-park1The project illuminated the works of original sculptors and artists in vivid colours
Jamaica - Before the pandemic brought large public gatherings to a halt, Tech Diva Ja organised Our Heroes: Walking in their Light, illuminating the works of original sculptors and artists in vivid colours with help from Chauvet Professional WELL Fit fixtures supplied by Phase 3 Productions.
An all-female design collective led by Nadia Roxburgh, Tech Diva Ja is made up of technical artists, engineers, choreographers, lighting designers and production managers. Also working alongside the Tech Diva Ja team at the event, which was held in Kingston’s National Heroes Park, were industry pioneers, Rufus McDonald and the late Franklyn ‘Chappie’ St. Juste.
This project, which paid tribute to Jamaica’s National Heroes, continued Tech Diva Ja’s work that previously reimagined Kingston’s public art spaces at night. Located around the nation’s capital, these spaces include popular statues like Negro Aroused by Edna Manley and Evolution by Chung Knight and Raymond Watson, among others. They serve as both canvas and inspiration for the colourful lighting work done by the team.
Using predominantly battery-operated lighting by Chauvet Professional from Phase 3 Productions Limited, the monuments were individually lit, completely transforming the space and giving a whole new interpretation to the presentation of the heroes.
With different lighting designers working on each monument, each presentation evoked a different feeling specific to the hero being reflected. The Right Excellent Marcus Garvey, Jamaica’s first National Hero, known internationally for his philosophies and teachings, was uplit using red and green, the colours of the United Negro Improvement Association, which he founded in 1914. For devoted Gaveyites and many Jamaicans, the lighting design by Taryn Bridgewater would have evoked feelings of nationalism and pride at Garvey’s global legacy.
At the arch shaped monument honoring the memory of the Right Excellent Alexander Bustamante a crowd-pleasing lighting display that combined with the creative use of color and interactive shadow play allowed visitors to become part of the work. Lit by Jessica Shaw, the flexibility of the wireless WELL Fit units meant that the lights could be discreetly placed and on-the-spot adjustments were easy to execute, resulting in a dynamic presentation of Bustamante’s monument.
Designer Aisha Robinson used lights at the Right Excellent Nanny of the Maroons monument to illuminate the abeng. Designed by Aisha Robinson, the WELL Fit units allowed the abeng to be lit in such a way that the traditional horn appeared magically illuminated from within. This provided a fitting tribute to the only female Jamaican National Hero, who herself was thought to possess supernatural powers.
Working with the British Council, Tech Diva Ja was able to pay it forward by hosting a workshop with Backstage to the Future (a live events and performing arts skills training program focused on youth) and incorporating them in the project. These young technical arts trainees were led by Michael ‘Rufus’ McDonald and Careen Walton in the lighting design for the monument for the Right Excellent Norman Manley.
For Roxburgh, the driving force behind the conception of this event, seeing it through from start to finish was a proud moment. “What really made this display special for me was the experience of seeing my research in a very real and tangible way. I’m exploring the concept of how lighting can be used to transform spaces, and people as they inhabit these spaces, so being able to execute at National Heroes Park, was not only important to me as a Jamaican, but also because you could see how people were affected by the presentation of our heroes in a new light.
The event would not have been possible, said Roxburgh, without the support of sponsors and partners such as the British Council; the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport; the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission; Phase 3 Productions; Philip Sherlock Centre for the Creative Arts; Conceptual Lighting & Audio Services; Starlight Production and iPrint Digital Limited.

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