University to bring light to east London

The University of East London is hosting a free After Dark Festival event tomorrow evening at its Docklands campus. 

The university, which is celebrating its Year of Science, will open its campus for a second year to local people, businesses, students and staff to showcase the university’s talent in sport, creativity and the performing arts. 

Hilary Lissenden, the University’s assistant chief operating officer for Sport and Active Campus, promised the event would showcase both international and local artists in a radiant show.

Lissenden said: “After Dark is about shared creativity and expression. 

“We want more people to have a chance to engage and more people to get involved with bringing the arts and the culture and the performance arts to build a sense of community where you study, live, work and play.”

Photograph from last year’s event. Image credit: University of East London

The event will feature an array of 18 installations around the campus focused around music, dance, creative arts, fashion and sport. 

Visitors can expect a chance to dance along to drumming performances, interact with The Lightwalkers, ‘race’ against Usain Bolt and see a beautiful mural co-created by staff and brought to life by the students.

One performer, Dolly Delicious, hinted: “I’ll be on my light up roller skates tomorrow.

“Hoping that my sets will go swimmingly.”

International artist Charlie Tymms, a puppet designer and maker who has worked on theatrical productions of Life of Pi and Spirited Away, and the film War Horse, collaborated with students for the event.

Tymms ran a puppet-making workshop for art foundation students in January and worked with the students to make ghosts of an ancient Roman Chariot for the illuminated giant puppet parade. 

The cross-sector project also involved theatre students who learnt from master puppeteer Edie Edmundson on how to bring the puppets to life.

She highlighted how this event in east London has given the students important skills on designing, constructing, collaborating and delivering on a local project. 

She said: “I am very excited to see how the Art Foundation students have developed the puppets since I ran the workshop.

“In some ways, puppeteering is an art form that defies gravity.” 

Sketch of what Tymm’s team tried to achieve with the students in just 4 days Credit: Charlie Tymms

A spokesperson for 18 Hours, the external production company who have collaborated with the University of East London to produce this community festival, stressed that the community will be at the heart of the event.

They said: “Everyone has the right to be a part of the remarkable experiences that our events provide; this is why we always look to engage with local communities and remove barriers to be accessible for all.”

Student Oliver Cudmore, who is on the After Dark committee, was involved in last year’s event.

He said: “It’s not just about UEL but the community around us as well, which I really love.

“It brings people together.”

Local resident Katie Teale, who lives next to the campus, agreed the event is good for local people.

She said: “We are going with our four year old and are looking forward to it.” 

This year’s event promises to eclipse last year’s event, with 500 students involved and 6,500 people signed up to the event so far. 

The After Dark festival is free and admission starts at 5:00pm and concludes at 8:00pm tomorrow on 29th February. 

Those who would like to book their ticket before they all go can do so via the UEL website.

Featured image credit: University of East London

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