Wakefield-based XPLOR brings neon to life
Monday, 4 October 2021
neon-photo-2-1Circlesphere is Fred Tschida’s first exhibition in Europe
UK - Based in South Kirby on Production Park, XPLOR is a £9m research, development and innovation centre that aims to support SMEs across the creative industries from music, film and TV to sports, theatre, corporate events and the arts. The scheme secured grant funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
Circlesphere is Tschida’s first exhibition in Europe and is being hosted at Neon Workshops Project Space: 7A and The Art House in Wakefield from 29 September – 28 November.
Fred Tschida, retired Professor at Alfred University, New York, was one of the first generation of artists and professors to explore and teach neon for nearly 40 years, since the 1970’s, and - until now - his artworks have not been exhibited in Europe.
The exhibition was the brainchild of artist Richard William Wheater, a former student of Tschida’s and founder of Neon Workshops in Wakefield, a company that develops and manufactures neon lighting for the creative industry.
Richard was determined to bring Tschida’s neon creations to the UK and using his own expertise in the neon industry coupled with the technical know-how of engineers at XPLOR, as well as financial support from The art House and Arts Council England, he was able to bring the 23ft structure to life.
After being approached by Richard, engineers at XPLOR took the project from initial concept through to the final design of the impressive rotating neon-clad ‘SPHERE’.
Matthew Glynn, product and concept design engineer and Pete Nye, controls and software engineer at XPLOR were tasked with bringing the creation to life, and after three months developing the installation, the public can now see Fred’s works in person.
Lee Brooks, CEO of Production Park says: “When Richard approached XPLOR we were immediately captivated by his bold plans for the exhibition, and more than anything we felt privileged to be a part of such a historic moment. Projects like this perfectly capture the reason why we set up XPLOR, and after a tough couple of years for the creative industry, it’s extremely reassuring to see the sector re-invigorated.
“The team carried this project from the initial sketches through to the final installation, showcasing their expertise and what XPLOR is capable of.”
Artist and founder of Neon Workshops, Richard William Wheater says: “Ever since studying with Fred in New York, I’ve been inspired by the use of neon as an art-form. It’s what drove me to set up Neon Workshops and has helped me to establish a successful career supplying neon installations to the creative industry.”
The exhibition coincides with the tenth anniversary of Neon Workshops, now a nationally renowned centre for neon art and production.
XPLOR’s site is in the final stages of development and once complete, will incorporate a 2,520sq.m specialist knowledge and innovation centre, offering a broad range of creative spaces and state-of-the-art technology to SMEs, and wider supply chain industries. It will also serve as the research arm of Backstage Academy.

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