Working with a group of international students to create a temporary lighting installation using recycled materials.
Just when you think that you have done it all, along comes a project that changes everything.
This time, it’s eight days in Goa. It is the first PLDA workshop outside Europe and we are workshop heads with a team of eight students. It’s a long-time dream of local PLDA member and organiser, Kapil Surlakar.
Our site is a street in the town of Panaji. We have four days to light it.
Our equipment includes a pile of WE-EF gobo projectors, colour blasts and colour flex from Philips, and some Encapsulite battens - plus one well dodgy ladder.
We learn many things. Sweaty hands and electricity don’t mix. We learn how to cajole painfully shy students, who call us Sir and Mam, into coming up with their own concept and how to install in searing heat - heat where you can’t move without sweating several kilos.
We learn not to freak out at snakes and frogs on the pavement and techniques to squash giant red ants, avoid mosquitoes and the flock of goats herded through the site. We learn how to enjoy bottle after bottle of warm water and ways to shut out the weird smells and the fear of what to eat.
We learn how to combat cultural differences and how to get used to a crowd of interested spectators standing one inch away at all times!
The end result is a simple, softly changing uplit canopy with interactive lit benches, Indian symbols projected onto the pavement and a jewel-like lantern inspired by Jali fretworks.
The gobos are made from coke cans and the lanterns from Phillips product boxes stuffed with hundreds of water bottles. Our students were bursting with pride when the installation was opened by the mayor and the lanterns made front page news.
For us, seeing how the scheme engaged those who encountered it and literally stopped traffic meant we had achieved our objective.
We head home covered in henna tattoos, with a variety of typical tourist souvenirs for the kids, greatly inspired by a cultural exchange with an unparalleled sense of achievement.