The London Institute for Advanced Light Technologies (LIALT) hosted ‘Guiding Lights’ at Science Gallery London on 16 May 2022 to celebrate the International Day of Light and the International Year of Glass.

Guiding Lights @ the Science Gallery London
Guiding Lights @ the Science Gallery London

Organised by Dr James Millen from King’s Department of Physics,  Megan Grace-Hughes (London Centre for Nanotechnology) and curator Dr Shelley James (Age of Light Innovations), the programme comprised of an exhibition, speakers and panel events, and the chance for members of the public to make glass with portable furnaces.

Participating researchers are all members of the London Institute for Advanced Light Technologies (LIALT) a  virtual research centre between King’s College London, Imperial College London and University College London, with a mission to provide an interdisciplinary and collaborative environment to explore new opportunities for growing London-based research into light and its applications.

The project encouraged early career photonics researchers from LIALT to design art installations which would explain the complicated ideas, themes and techniques they work with to members of the general public.

Event highlights

The event featured insightful conversations between academics and artists alike, with key speakers including:

  • Dr Jess Wade from Imperial College London opened the event with an inspiring and topical keynote talk about ‘Light and the pandemic’
  • A panel discussion  with Professor Bob Schroeder from UCL, art publisher Kailas Elmer and glass artist Katharine Coleman discussing how the power of light and glass can express symmetry and pattern at different scales
  • Physicist Professor Riccardo Sapienza from Imperial College London in discussion alongside holographer Pearl John and light artist Liz West, considering how time and space shape our experience of colour
  • Professor Helen Fielding from UCL, lighting designer Mark Major and glass artist Matt Durran sharing different perspectives on light and form, from the nano to the architectural scale
  • Award-winning lighting designer Paule Constable on ‘The Poetry of Light’, and how lighting is used in theatre

Pulling glass

Over seventy people signed up to pull their own strands of glass with the UK’s only portable furnaces designed and operated by Mini-Melt. Each piece of glass was collected and transported into the gallery to make an art installation that showed how light travels through glass.

Glass pulling at Guiding Lights
Professor Anatoly Zayats making glass at the event.

The organisers would like to thank King’s College London, Imperial College London, University College London, SPIEPhosLaser 2000 and Science Gallery London for their help and support.

This event could not have been possible without the researchers and artists who worked tirelessly to make the pieces for the exhibition:

Vittorio Aita, Jente Clarysse, Anna Fischer, Pearl John, Dr Jack Kingsley-Smith, Nicholas Lau, Aisha Mumtaz, Grace Pappas, Emma Pearce, Kate Robertson, James Sabin, Raziman Thottungal, Cynthia Vidal, Anne Weber and Dr Anastasia Zaleska.

With thanks to:

Age of Light

Dr Shelley James – Curator of Guiding Lights