Hestercombe Gardens host ‘Illumina’ light installation

The gardens will be lit up spectacularly

The gardens will be lit up spectacularly - Credit: SUB

If you go down to the woods today you’re sure of a big surprise. Indeed, come nightfall this September visitors to the famous Hestercombe Gardens are certainly in for a big surprise.

Hestercombe will come alive with light

Hestercombe will come alive with light - Credit: SUB

With more than 50 acres of lakes, temples, cascades, tranquil woodland walks, formal terraces, vivid colours and breath taking views, Hestercombe Gardens certainly justifies its reputation as one of the top 20 gardens in Britain.

This September you will have the chance to visit Hestercombe at night when the house and gardens will be transformed with a series of ingenious light interventions, which conjure up a whole new way of experiencing the genius of the place.

Over two long weekends in September innovative light installations will be cleverly installed in the natural landscape and around some of the gardens’ iconic structures such as the Orangery and the Mausoleum, creating vivid illusions, some of which you can actually walk through!

This exciting dichotomy of nature and technology, fittingly named Illumina, comes courtesy of light installation artist extraordinaire, Ulf Pedersen.

Bristol-based Ulf is famed for his work with Power Plant, a ground-breaking group of artists, which has set up light and sound based interventions in various botanical gardens around the world, including Durham and Edinburgh, as well as staging sell-out exhibitions at arts festivals in Sydney and Hong Kong.

A little closer to home, Ulf has just finished a project on a roof top in Bristol as part of the Beaminster Beam event, a project sponsored by the Arts Council in a drive to regenerate our high streets, part of the Mary Portas vision.

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Another recent Pedersen project involved the intriguing lighting of a series of cranes in Bristol docks.

This form of art is a developing form gathering momentum across the world.

In fact Ulf together with Power Plant is planning to stage their next world event in New Zealand as part of the Wellington Arts Festival, which promises to set tongues wagging once again.

Whilst he enjoys city-based projects, he prefers the effects that his light installations create in more rural locations.

He says: “Lighting events are really taking off now. Every location is a challenge but I particularly like staging my installations in remote locations like Hestercombe because you get a deeper darkness and increased subtleties of light.”

For Ulf the natural beauty and remarkable garden structures, from the Witches House to the Great Cascade, are the ideal inspiration for his light happenings, which make use of sophisticated sound, electronic and projection techniques, and even literary quotations to weave his magic.

This event builds on the success of the first Illumina, staged at Hestercombe last year as Ulf explains: “A number of the favourite installations will return but there will be some surprising new revelations.”

One of the most popular interventions last year was Apparition - a ghostly giant goldfish ‘floating’ mysteriously over the lake.

Whilst the fish has swum to waters new, Ulf promises there will be something equally as ethereal taking its place this year.

“The ultimate conditions are those that allow my pieces to work at their best, last year we had perfect conditions at Hestercombe and people’s comments gave me such emotion and encouragement,” he says as he prepares for what he hopes will be another event to remember.

He laughingly adds that, even though this is a night time event, people should not bring torches because they will ruin his effects! On a cautionary note he also warns that visitors should ‘not come expecting a ‘Son et Lumiere’, it’s much more than that, something much more subtle is at play.

The multi-dimensional event will give visitors a truly sensory experience. Round it off with some of Hestercombe’s delicious, homemade food served on the Orangery Lawn and the evening will be complete!