Latest News | 8 November 2021

Artist’s illuminating work helps keep culture bid in the spotlight

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Neon art installations created by an artist who grew up in Derby are helping to keep the city’s bid to be named City of Culture 2025 in the minds of the public.

Tim Etchells has returned to his home city to create ‘Neon’ – three lit installations in public spaces around the city centre.

They were unveiled as part of Derby Festé back in September and will remain in the city until January.

As well as creating a legacy for the popular annual festival, the installation provides a fitting beacon for Derby’s quest to be named UK City of Culture 2025. It also further cements the city’s new Derby Season of Light Festival.

Derby is not the only city to currently be displaying Tim’s work – with installations also in place in Paris and Dublin.

For Derby he has created a specially commissioned piece overlooking The Spot in the city centre entitled ‘To See Better Days’, on the walls of the new Museum of Making called ‘Wait Here I’ve Gone to Get Help’ and within Déda, in Chapel Street, which is called ‘The Kind of Stillness Where Everyone is Listening’.

Tim said: “Infiltrating galleries, street corners, shop windows, rooftops and other locations, the neon sign and LED works I have made spell out simple but intriguing phrases, messages and instructions.

“Most of the time, you read something on the street that is trying to sell you something. I’m interested to create moments of thoughtfulness and playful encounter in a public setting.

“The work is public but private at the same time as everybody has their own interpretation of the words.

“By appearing to address the viewer directly through these works, I am trying to draw each person that encounters it into a space of intimate reflection.

“In Derby, I have heard people on the streets looking up at ‘To See Better Days’ and then relating the words to many different scenarios, including the pandemic, how the city centre has changed and, of course, the impact of Derby County going into administration.

“I have enjoyed coming back to the city where I grew up and where many of my family still live and it was very special to be invited by Déda to be part of Festé and that ‘Neon’ will be an ongoing legacy from that weekend festival.

“There is an air of excitement here about reaching the final eight in the bid to become UK City of Culture in 2025 and it’s great that people are seeing my work here at the same time as visitors to other cities such as Paris and Dublin are seeing work there.”

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