Originating from Gunpowder Park, Bright Sparks is a unique research and development initiative which has produced 11 international arts and design led projects for new ideas about public open space.
Haring Woods developed Bright Sparks in 2005 in Gunpowder Park as a unique funding model to support artists and designers to carry out research and development projects exploring the physical and social aspects of public open space.
The Bright Sparks concept and methodology addressed the lack of R&D opportunities which allowed creative professionals including artists, public realm designers and landscape architects the freedom to develop new ideas without the constraints of producing an end product. This new model of commissioning has furthered Haring Woods’ practice of using arts and culture to inspire change and influence current perceptions of our public spaces.
The first phase of Bright Sparks funded eleven diverse projects with international partnerships between 2006 and 2009. A number of these projects are now being applied to real public realm developments, demonstrating that this new model of commissioning ‘ideas’ can result in informing new developments and instigating debate.
Bright Sparks Funders and Supporters for Phase 1: 2006 - 2009
Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, in partnership with LANS, provides core funding for Gunpowder Park’s arts, science and nature programme.
Arts Council England, East & Arts Council England, London
Essex County Council
Hertfordshire County Council
Media Supporter: Landscape Design Trust, publisher of Green Places (incorporating Landscape Design), Green Places News and Garden Design Journal.
Theresa Smith Urban Viewpoints
Through her varied research and collaboration with a number of different ecological professionals, Theresa Smith developed new ways of enabling busy people in cities to become aware of the rich mix of wildlife that is often an unnoticed part of their daily lives.
David Buck Tipography
Inspired by contemporary music notation, Buck's research explored how to apply the temporal qualities of music composition to a new method of drawing landscapes which would reflect the durational elements of open spaces.
This work has informed a new MA course at the University of East London.
Emma Smith & Sadie Stowell SubRural
Artist Emma Smith and landscape architect Sadie Stowell begun an ongoing creative investigation into how the rural landscape is perceived and how these perceptions can be recreated or simulated within inner city environments.
John Cockram Environmental Health
Artist John Cockram explores how we can apply human skills and qualities such as ‘protection’, ‘well-being’ and ‘healing’ to the natural world and how the human qualities of ‘care and concern’ change when taken out of a healthcare context and are applied to the environment.
Justin Carter Renewable Devices for Arts & Ecology
Exploring the rapidly evolving possibilities of renewable energy, artist Justin Carter has developed an extensive series of ambitious proposals for functional sculptures which integrate these new technologies in social situations.
Newton Harrison & Helen Mayer Harrison
The Harrison Studio & Associates (Britain) Ltd
The 30 Year NOW: A future for the Lea Valley
Renowned American eco-artists Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison have been exploring issues associated with climate change and specifically rising sea levels around mainland Britain, and researched a specific proposal for the future of Lee Valley.
Michael Pinsky Order to Chaos
Michael has continued his research into the urban perimeter of Gunpowder Park, and the friction experienced where urban and natural elements meet. He has played with notions of order and disorder which he has presented through a story book: Fables in Open Space.
Download the book here
Graham Harwood, Richard Wright and Matsuko Yokokoji Eco Media
Eco Media proposes a new exploration of ecosystems as a communications networks that can allow exchanges of ‘viewpoint’ between the human and animal worlds.
Terry Orchard and Simon Lee Dicker
Artists Terry and Simon developed a participatory arts project aimed at improving access to open spaces for the young people with special needs highlighting issues of navigation, accessibility, choice and interpretation
Rosanna Vitiello and Marcus Willcocks
Unravelling the Urban Lexicon
Designers and public space specialists, Vitiello and Willcocks investigated how the physical elements of public spaces can determine our perception of a place and influence our emotional reactions.
Alex Murdin Immersion
Immersion is a transdisciplinary project by artist Alex Murdin which researches the relationship between leisure and ecology in the UK to develop new uses for lidos, tidal pools and other water courses, exploring their potential as spaces for ecological education and recreation
photo Theresa Smith