Brighton Festival promises an "ode to resilience, a light held up to the dark"

As part of Brighton Festival, The Spire premieres a new commission by installation artist Abigail Conway, who lives in Chichester.
Abigail ConwayAbigail Conway
Abigail Conway

The Candle Project relaunches the venue’s public programme, following a period of closure as a result of Covid-19 restrictions.

Spokeswoman Anna Goodman said: “The Candle Project is a timely ritual, a welcome, transformative ode to resilience, a light held up to the dark and an intimate celebration of shadow and light.

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Abigail Conway invites participants to make a tapered, beeswax candle, cast their own words inside, then place it amongst a larger candle installation. As candles slowly burn, remnant messages left behind become glimmering beacons of hope, whispers for others to discover and take home.

“In a transient world which offers little space for deep listening, The Candle Project reclaims and recreates sacred ground, providing an analogue space for contemplation, connectivity and regeneration.

“Built over the course of a week from May 24, the public will be able to experience this installation via a celebratory lighting ceremony, livestreamed on the evening of Saturday, May 29. This event will mark a communal burn, after a time of transition for many – a transition perhaps unarticulated.

“The livestreamed lighting ceremony will be accompanied by specially created soundscapes with contributions from Brighton & Hove-based choirs.

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“The following day, installation participants who helped create the artwork are invited to visit The Spire to excavate and receive messages. For those who can’t be there, messages will be posted. Though the excavation won’t be livestreamed, it is an essential part of the process.

“At a time of division, The Candle Project, offers spiritual exchanges for secular and non-secular communities.  It represents mankind’s fragility and mortality in action and how ultimately connecting with others helps us to carry on. When all is said and done, what words would we write to one another?”

Installation is from Monday, May 24 to Friday, May 28, 12pm-6pm Monday and Tuesday, 12pm-8pm Wednesday to Friday. Audiences can drop in during these times to view the installation process and deposit messages for the candles. Participation in the installation is free but must be pre-booked via

The lighting ceremony livestream is on Saturday, May 29, 8pm:

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David Sheppeard, co-artistic director of The Spire, said: “We are long-time fans of Abigail Conway’s work. She transformed our space in 2018 with An Evening With Primrose as part of Brighton Digital Festival. We’re thrilled Abigail will be returning with The Candle Project for Brighton Festival and we hope that local communities take us up on the offer of taking a moment to consider the last year and communicate their hopes for the future in this beautiful mediative work.”

The Spire is a creative space for theatre, dance, circus and performance makers, located in the Grade II listed St Mark’s Chapel in East Brighton. Led by co-artistic directors Faith Dodkins and David Sheppeard, the space is used by both the local community and professional artists to develop new creative projects and is also available for public performances, private events, wedding receptions, exhibitions and launches.

Abigail’s work has been presented in galleries, theatres, architecture festivals and showcased by the British Council. It has been presented nationally at arts spaces including the ICA, Southbank Centre, The Barbican, Battersea Arts Centre, The National Theatre, Forest Fringe and the Wellcome Collection.