The gigantic china clay pit at Wheal Martyn will form the canvas for a laser show – the centrepiece of an after-dark event to transform the landscape with light.
For three evenings in December, lasers will draw animated illustrations inspired by our collection of objects from the china clay industry. The event will include a range of experiences using light and sound to explore the landscape and bring to life the heritage of the china clay industry.
A trail through Wheal Martyn will feature light used in a variety of ways, ranging from high tech laser lights to an installation of lanterns made by children using local clay.
Visitors will have the chance to walk through an LED tunnel with projected patterns, a lighting and mirror installation will transform the museum’s waterwheel, UV bubbles will float by, and visitors will be able to play with light in the UV lounge – complete with sofa.
As the UK’s only china clay museum, Wheal Martyn celebrates the rich heritage of this industry which has touched the lives of local communities. Working with Greenwave Laser, the museum will use light to explore how china clay mining has transformed the landscape and communities around St Austell. The light installations will showcase the museum’s collection, including a 1934 ERF lorry and the well-known clay statues which stand near the entrance.
Local people will contribute to the event with children and community groups making clay lanterns and glow-in-the-dark decorations, there will be a soundtrack of silver bands and a local person reading Cornish poet Jack Clemo’s poem about the local clay mining industry, “Snowfall at Kernick”.
Nikita Brown, Wheal Martyn’s Exhibition & Engagement Officer said:
“Through this event, we aim to inspire local people to take pride in Cornwall’s china clay heritage and explore how it has shaped the place we live. Everyone here has been affected by the china clay industry, and Wheal Martyn exists to keep hold of that heritage. This event will give local people and visitors an opportunity to reconnect with their heritage and to see the museum’s collection in a different way.”
Half term activities for all ages offer the opportunity to create something for the light trail: participants at the Glow in the dark decoration workshop will make UV clay decorations which will be added to the UV winter wonderland. Clay lanterns will be created using local materials at the Clay Lantern Workshop with ceramicist Jenny Beavan.
In advance of the event, on Saturday 16 November, the museum’s ERF lorry will be specially decorated with lights for St Austell Torchlight’s Carnival, giving a glimpse of what to expect at the Light and Clay festival.
A Celebration of Light and Clay is delivered by Wheal Martyn Museum, supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and from the Feast programme, which makes great art happen in Cornwall with investment from Arts Council England and Cornwall Council.
Celebration of Light and Clay takes place on 5, 6 & 7 December.
Booking is essential. Further information is available here. Places can also be booked through the Cornish Riviera Box Office on 01726 879500 or in person at the Tourist Offices in Truro, St Austell, Bodmin and Liskeard. Those with a Cornwall Residents’ Pass should call the Museum on 01726 850362 to reserve a free space. For those unable to access the trail paths, the event will be livestreamed into the museum café, and into Cornwall care homes.