Lumiere 2023: Signed Light

Martin Glover: Signed Light

The UK’s Lumiere returns to Durham and is set to transform the city into a spectacular outdoor gallery of light installations between the 16th-19th of November. One of the commissioned spectacles was created by UK artist Martin Glover. Martin has drawn a passion for education around British Sign Language and his work involves the five signs fingerspelling the word ‘Light’.

To find out more about this, we got in contact with Martin to learn more about the Lumiere and his art.

  1. Hi Martin, first of all, can you please tell us a bit more about yourself?

I would introduce myself; I am ‘Gloverman’, a self-taught deaf digital artist, a ‘spark’ from the Covid Pandemic. Professionally, I am chiefly a specialised art facilitator where I organise BSL tours and workshops across the UK. I am a registered architect but at a low profile, undertaking occasional assignments.

  1. When did you realise you had a passion for art?

It would be fair to comment that my passion for art was more or less developed when I studied architecture (in my school days, art was at least not one of my favourite subjects!). However, since the pandemic, I am more enthusiastic over public art, street art and sculpture.

  1. Can you tell us more about your BSL tours?

I have delivered many BSL tours and also facilitated workshops, covering many themes relating to contemporary art, architecture, street art and sculpture. I have also provided BSL tours for non-signers to allow them to see how deaf people perceive art through our language. It manages my funded Digitspace project, championing better visual art access nationally.

  1. You have recently been announced as one of the five artists who will create art for this years Lumiere, how important is this exhibition for you?

My belief is that BSL is a living, dynamic, and wonderful language, but I sadly acknowledge that it cannot be recorded easily in written form. This dilemma led me to develop my own sign art: the BSL alphabet, known as fingerspelling, in calligraphy, animated signing and signing recordings.

In addition, I am particularly interested to see my digital work, blowing up into large scale artworks (varied art forma) in order to be exposed to wider communities. It will be great to see the beauty of sign languages in the public domain. I had already done some public commissions (street art mural and public posters). All of my public commissions are very important as it exposes the passing general public, but this one at Durham is perhaps the most ‘romantic’! This is the first time that my artwork has been animated so it will be interesting to know how it will inspire spectators. I am hoping it will inspire people to learn fingerspelling and master the beauty of our language!

  1. How has being Deaf impacted/influenced your artwork?

My own experiences being deaf and native BSL simply play a fundamental role to develop my artwork! However, my fascination with the concept of Sutton SignWriting (a hybrid of hieroglyphy and body postures in dancing form) have particularly influenced my art practice. As unsuccessfully attempted to master the system, it sparked my curiosity into finding a way in which we could record our wonderful, natural language. Even though fingerspelling is derived from written English, it is a part of BSL, so I wanted to show it with movement, creativity, and fluidity, much like joined up handwriting.

  1. What advice would you give to your younger self?

In short, I would advise my younger self to go and have a look at this amazing website, where it shows a wonderful range of deaf people and their experiences. I was constantly told that it was impossible for me to become an architect, but why? Just because I can’t speak fluently. What a load of cobblers they made in my young days.

  1. Finally, do you have any future goals or aspirations relating to your BSL or your art in general?

Simply, I would like to see a growth of BSL tours across the UK but with a new generation of Deaf guides where I hope to inspire. Of course, more public commissions would be nice.

Thank you to Martin for sharing more on this year’s Lumiere and more about his BSL tours. It is really great to see fingerspelling in a visual art form. We hope more people are inspired to learn BSL.

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