Robe Esprites light Avignon’s Palais des Papes
Tuesday, 15 September 2020
robe-2020-helios-festival-avignonThe event highlights Avignon’s stunning architecture (photo: Terry Di Isernia)
France - The famous Palais des Papes in Avignon came alive bathed in a vibrant collage of colours, shapes, and textures – thanks to 12 x Robe Esprite moving lights – which were part of a design by LD Fabien Chamakoff for the 2020 Helios Festival.
Launched in 2017, the event highlights – with silent projection / visual works and light art pieces – Avignon’s stunning architecture and rich, diverse heritage as the ‘City of Catholic Popes’ between 1309 and 1377. It remained under Papal rule until 1791 when it became part of France. The Palais des Papes (Pope’s Palace) is one of the largest and most important medieval Gothic buildings in the whole of Europe.
For Fabien – who works for the Helios Festival organisation – it was a great honour to illuminate the intricate and imposing architecture, one of seven key sites lit up this year.
The 10-minute Palais des Papes lightshow ran for five weeks from 25 July to 30 August. With no soundtrack, Fabien’s idea was to focus on a 60m wide x 40m high section of the building, so passers-by could appreciate the work of renowned French architects, Pierre Peysson and Jean de Louvres, plus the lavish ornamentation of Simone Martini and Matteo Giovanetti, ace students from the School of Siena in Italy.
Initially, Fabien had wanted to use Robe’s BMFL fixtures – apart from being a product with which he’s very familiar, he wanted the intensity and multifunctionality. However, he realised that there was not enough power available at the site to run these, and they didn’t want to shatter the silence and reverence of the environment by having a generator!
He spoke to Chateaurenard-based lighting rental company Fox, who worked closely with the Festival’s technical producers ARTCOM Diffusion to supply equipment, and asked if they could suggest an LED alternative - and so the Esprite profile entered the frame!
Having not used Robe Esprites before, Fabien needed to know that they had the required brightness, so a demo was set up at Fox’s warehouse instigated by Robe France’s Terry Di Isernia.
Together with Fox’s MD Eric Lambertin, they asked if Terry would join the team as lighting programmer and operator for the project due to his experience and intimate knowledge of the fixtures, and Terry was delighted to oblige.
The 12 x Esprites were the only lightsources for the Palais des Papes and were rigged on two levels to a special tower positioned 40m from the building and clad in weatherised material to protect the lights.
The 2020 Helios Festival was a big hit with the public generating lots of interest and also well received by the media.

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