Hundreds of primary and high school students from around Queenstown are adding their own special touch to the multi-award-winning LUMA Southern Light Project.
The countdown is on to four evenings of illuminated art, light sculptures and entertainment in the Queenstown Gardens over Queen’s Birthday weekend (May 31 – June 3).
Community participation, collaboration and support is a key driver for organisers of the event – now in its fourth year and expected to attract over 50,000 people who brave winter nights to immerse themselves in the light and sound spectacular.
And for over 250 students whose work will be on display it’s the culmination of months of hard work and creative effort on their collaborative installations.
The person with the biggest job of all is Wakatipu High School (WHS) technology teacher and LUMA school liaison co-ordinator Rebecca Lund.
She has brought together students not only from WHS but from Queenstown, Remarkables and Shotover Country primary schools to work with the theme ‘Lanterns’.
With sustainability in mind though, the theme has a twist — students all have to use recycled materials.
Plenty of plumbing of all shapes and sizes (even sewage pipes) have been repurposed for the works, after students were tasked with finding plumbers, construction and project managers willing to donate materials for them to transform.
Media students at the high school have also been able to get involved again this year, introducing an element of sound to the school pieces encouraging people to interact with the artworks by finding sound-sensitive buttons to press in conjunction with the light elements.
“The students are as excited as they can be because they’re presenting their work not just to our schools’ community but to thousands more visitors and locals at LUMA,” says Rebecca.
“Because of the ‘soundscape’ element of the installation it’s meant we can be more cross-curricular than ever before, involving more than 70 students from the high school alone.”
For the first time the WHS Art Department has dedicated a Scheme of Work to the LUMA project and created a ‘cityscape’ using clay. Under the watchful eye of teacher Abbey Brown, students have learned how to handle, bisque fire and glaze clay structures.
“I sometimes wonder why I sign up for this year after year, but when I see the end result and how proud students and their families are, it’s all worth it,” says Rebecca.
Over the past two months, LUMA director Simon Holden has been coming into schools to give authentic stakeholder feedback on student ideas and concepts.
“Students have found that pretty challenging but have accepted the challenge,” says Rebecca. “It’s a valuable lesson for them to learn that this is the way things happen out in the real world. I really value the fact that this is an amazing authentic project.
“It has actual stakeholders that students have to listen to and adapt their work accordingly depending on feedback.”
Another ‘first’ for WHS students is the chance to help in the set-up of their works, working on site with technicians to install their creations before the crowds arrive.
LUMA Light Festival Trust chairman Duncan Forsyth says the level of involvement from local schools is a key element of community initiatives and engagement, aligning with the Trust’s core values.
“These students work so hard each year and we’re as thrilled as they are to see their work literally come to life over the LUMA weekend,” he says.
LUMA Southern Light Project and the LUMA Light Festival Trust are very proudly supported by the Central Lakes Trust, the Queenstown Lakes District Council and Queenstown law firm Anderson Lloyd.