As the pandemic swept the world, the role of key workers, particularly in healthcare, was to the fore. The UK rightly rushed to applaud the NHS and that inspired a bold and beautiful projection mapping project.
Events were being transformed or outright cancelled, including Liverpool’s Light Night. This annual one-night event feels like the official start of summer in the city as pop-up cultural events unfold and venues open later than usual. For 2020, organisers Open Culture re-thought the evening and came up with Light Night at Home. As part of this we joined forces with regular collaborators Adlib to create two projection mapped animations – one on each of Liverpool’s cathedrals.
Liverpool’s Hope Street has been the stomping ground of Draw & Code since our inception and it happens to be a very unusual street indeed – it boasts two cathedrals. What’s more, these cathedrals are amongst the world’s largest places of worship and are visually striking. The opportunity to project on to them was not to be missed, pandemic or not.
As this was a hurried project that had to be turned around in days, this wasn’t the usual 3D-based projection mapping project. Instead, 2D designs and animations would be tailored to the gigantic display area using Adlib’s suite of projection kit.
The team got to work, taking measurements and photographs of both the Anglican and Metropolitan cathedrals and designing images and animation to map to the structures. We embraced the rainbow theme that was adorning windows of homes and on murals all around the UK as people showed their support for the heroes of the NHS. Our artists at Draw & Code designed our own content and we even included drawings and videos from the kids of Draw & Code staff. It was a family affair! It was a treat getting the children involved and it was really fulfilling to see such lovely designs go from paper to a giant projection.
The team then arrived before sunset to set up on location with the limited crews that were needed to be there. Then it was ready for the show to begin, albeit without an in-person audience to enjoy it.
After a few very late nights bringing it all together in short notice, the results were spectacular. The colossal buildings were lit up into a colourful display. Liverpool’s Hope Street beamed with projected rainbows and animations, proudly showing gratitude to the hardworking key workers during the pandemic. Projection mapping in Liverpool is nothing new, but seeing such spectacular installations without the usual large and enthusiastic crowds as lockdown kept people at home was strange.
Having worked with Open Culture and Adlib before, it was an absolute pleasure to come together again to bring the spectacle to life. In the midst of a pandemic, we were able to create something really remarkable together for what would have been the city’s 11th Light Night. The event featured the hashtag #lightnightathome online, the images of the cathedrals being shared online amongst other local artists’ work. The result was that these images provided the Anglican Cathedral with its largest ever reach.
For us at Draw & Code, we were doing something we were familiar with in a familiar place during unfamiliar times. It was a phenomenal thing to see happen, alone in the streets of Liverpool during lockdown, to produce something that celebrated all of the wonderful people doing incredibly courageous things to help look after others during unprecedented times.