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Chine Forest, Bournemouth, UK

Chine Forest is an audio-visual artist-led project inspired by Bournemouth’s famous chines and pines, a digital representation of a natural environment situated on Holdenhurst Road in front of the Old Fire Station. Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council appointed Michael Grubb Studio to provide the Lighting Design for this immersive public artwork in collaboration with the artist Juliet Quintero and sound designers Coda to Coda.

The installation is composed of a series of seventeen lighting columns of varying heights, integrated with LED lighting and speakers all connected to a central control system that provided dynamic lighting control within each column.

The concept was incredibly ambitious; in total there are 27 lighting scenes, 6 different lit portals and an Oral History aesthetic of white, set with 72 recorded sounds. The scenes change every 30 minutes, running from 8:00 am up to 10:30 pm. The programme of sound and lighting follows a circadian rhythm, fluctuating throughout the day. The scene arrangement also varies day to day, to avoid repetition and encourage repeat visits to the area. Every month of the year has an individual scene set which responds to sunrise and sunset times for that season.

Each scene has varying brightness levels, opacity, groups of colours and set sounds to represent scenes that evoke dawn, forest, heathland, river, sea, storm, and insects. The sounds were mixed live on site by Coda de Coda to create a surround sound experience and interest. There are underlying environmental soundtracks with sounds of wildlife recorded from that environment and weather reports such as shipping forecasts.

The challenge for Michael Grubb Studio was creating the right light levels, utilising delicate, opaque light colours with subtle gradients and hues of light. It was an incredibly time-consuming task to create the colour gradients for the complex sequencing programme, but the finished result is striking.

Iona Tovey, Lansdowne Programme Manager at Bournemouth Council, said: “This interactive artwork featured an incredibly complex and ambitious design. The lighting design from Michael Grubb Studio embodied the artist’s vision, developing a concept through creative workshops to demonstrate how elements of light and sound can reflect the diverse natural habitats that surround Bournemouth and the cultural heritage and diversity of the town itself.”


Project credits:
Client – Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council
Lighting Design – Michael Grubb Studio
Landscape – WSP
Artist – Juliet Quintero
Sound Design – Coda to Coda
Manufacturer of bespoke columns – Urbis Schréder
Photographer – Alex Bland