Line of Light Poetry Projections on Station Street

Thursday 10 November 2016
reading time: min, words

We were drawn to the illuminated poetry at Station Street, celebrating our UNESCO City of Literature status...


If you’ve ever wondered what happens to all of the leftover lightsabers from the Goose Fair, then take a look at the underside of the Karlsruhe Friendship Bridge over Station Street. Two sets of parallel lines, mirroring the tram tracks above, light up and pulse whenever a tram goes overhead. It’s beautiful, and has helped transform the area into an intriguing kaleidoscope of colour.   

The patterns of light are there to draw your attention to a poetry wall below where a new five-word poem will be projected every day for the next year. The project has been commissioned by the Council to celebrate Nottingham’s UNESCO City of Literature status and has been timed to coincide with the Festival of Literature (8 to 13 November).  

Line of Light is the brainchild of artist Jo Fairfax. The poems have been selected by members of the public as well as specially written works from other UNESCO Cities of Literature. At the opening on Wednesday 2 November, John Humphries of DIY Poets spoke with great pride at having his work appear alongside such notable figures as Byron, Lawrence and Ovid, making this a genuinely inclusive project.  

Jo Fairfax has used a gorgeous modern looking font for the poems, all of which are eloquently framed by a curved border. The quotes are broken up into tiny blocks so that it looks like ‘digital’ when projected against the brick wall.


Jo said: “The inspiration for Line of Light comes directly from Nottingham and the exact location was a significant influence on the overall design.  I also wanted to celebrate the wonderfully rich literary position that Nottingham holds.

“Although Line of Light is rooted in local references, I wanted the poems to be international and across time. I researched thousands of poems, which was an amazingly enriching and humbling journey.  Ex-Poet Laureate Andrew Motion sent in a poem, John Hegley wrote one especially for the project and we also received a line from Jake Bugg.  In the end I went with my instinct of what would look just right on the Station Street wall – it wasn’t a qualitative decision because all the poems were amazing.  I want each line to act as a depth charge for people’s imaginations and souls as they go about their business.”

Patterns of light continue under the tram tracks to the canal, finishing with a projection of Nottingham lace. It would be great if this was pushed further and the lights ran all the way up to Weekday Cross. This would offer an alluring route into the city, culminating at the Nottingham Contemporary.

First impressions of a city mean a lot. The council have done well in turning Station Street into a pedestrian area. The Bentinck Hotel is now a well maintained Starbucks, Hopkinsons offers some of the independent spirit, and the Rebel Writers banner is a curt reminder of our heritage. But the minute the Broadmarsh comes into view your heart sinks. Line of Light is a simple and clever way of promoting our UNESCO status and welcoming visitors to the city. You have 365 days to go and check it out.

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