Gary Jones Photography

White Light Makes the Sunrise at Coventry Cathedral

White Light was recently asked to supply the lighting and rigging solutions for Sunrise: an immersive lighting project set within the Coventry Cathedral ruins to commemorate events from the Second World War.



Over the night of 14th – 15th of November 1940, Coventry Cathedral was reduced to ruins following an enemy bombing. The morning after, the Dean stood in the destruction and declared the city seek reconciliation; an attitude which has since defined Coventry’s ability to triumph in the face of adversity. This was celebrated by Sunrise; a project which saw the Cathedral Ruins transformed by NEON and Musicity into an ethereal dream-like landscape depicting a Sunrise.



Mark Nixon, Director at NEON, comments: “NEON were commissioned to come up with the concept and design of the lighting installation of Sunrise. As the main theme was rebirth in the face of darkness, we felt that the metaphor of an actual sunrise would best represent this idea. It would also fit well with the launch which took place on New Year’s Eve and would begin the run up to 2020 in which Coventry will become the UK’s City of Culture”.



NEON took overall responsibility for the artistic experience and approached Musicity to deliver the bespoke soundtrack alongside WL to deliver the bespoke lighting installation. Mark explains: “The artistic brief called for a lighting concept that would allow visitors (either new or old) to engage in the Cathedral via a fresh perspective”.



NEON approached WL where Mark worked closely with WL’s Creative Producer Richard Stirzaker. Richard comments: “Speaking with Mark, he had a very specific brief which had to be fulfilled in a very specific space. As visitors entered the Cathedral, they needed to be paved in waves of light which created that feeling of moving from night to day. The equipment we supplied also had to work holistically with the bespoke soundscape”.



WL invited Mark and his team down to its London base to test a range of equipment. Mark explains: “After some discussion and experimentation, we realised that the SGM P5s LED Floods would be the most suitable lighting fixture. 10 rows of 4 x P5s were used in combination with smoke machines to create an atmosphere in which the lighting could be physically experienced. As the Sunrise space measured 14.5m wide, 44m long and 5m high, we drew on Prolyte H30V trusses to create a gantry type structure across the ruins”.



Sunrise ran from 31st December 2018 until 13th January 2019. The launch on New Year’s Eve was accompanied by a live performance of Sunrise Sonata.