Celebrating all the people who campaigned for women’s votes, a new light sculpture created for permanent display in Parliament has been lit by Applelec’s LED Light Sheet. The site-specific sculpture, by artist Mary Branson, is the first abstract artwork to be commissioned for the historic Palace of Westminster and is located above the entrance to St Stephen’s Hall, where many suffrage protests took place.
At over six metres in height, New Dawn features 168 hand-blown glass scrolls, each illuminated individually by LED Light Sheet to create an enormous sun-shaped composition. The glass scrolls are a visual reference to the many Acts of Parliament stored in the Parliamentary Archives which restricted and then acknowledged women’s right to the vote. The title of the sculpture, New Dawn, is inspired by language used by many campaigners who viewed the vote as providing a ‘new dawn’ for women.
Light has special significance in the artwork. With the illumination of each scroll controlled individually, the light of New Dawn rises and falls over a twelve hour cycle, linked to the tide of the Thames. This ebb and flow of light symbolises the tide of change that campaigners were certain would eventually bring women the vote.
Mary Branson, artist, said: ‘Applelec’s LED Light Sheet has been vitally important in the creation of New Dawn. Being really bright but thin, the light source could be hidden in our structure and so gives the impression that the glass itself is glowing and floating in front of the structural portcullis metalwork. I needed a light source that was low power, and low maintenance, as my brief was to create an artwork that could be enjoyed by future generations. LED Light Sheet generates almost no heat and with our DMX controlled drivers, fades smoothly to give beautiful and subtle effects through the glass.’
Ian Drinkwater, Applelec managing director, said: ‘We feel privileged to have worked with Mary Branson on the lighting for New Dawn, and to have contributed our expertise in LED lighting to this significant and beautiful artwork celebrating women’s right to vote.
Applelec worked with Mary Branson for over a year on the illumination of New Dawn, and the integration of LED Light Sheet within the sculpture.
Photography by Emma Brown and Mat Clarke