Earlier this year, we commissioned local light artist Martin Richman to explore memories of the East End with locals from older generations. 

Online conversations ranged from memories of first holidays or special trips out, favourite sweets and memorable foods from childhood, first concerts, shows and iconic clothes. Our Illuminate participants looked back on the history of East London through their personal experiences of living here.

See how the discussions evolved with archival photographs and works in progress alongside Martin’s final piece Shards of Light, The Feeling of Remembering, a series of light boxes that beautifully animate the memories shared in our Illuminate sessions.


Rich Mix local  Martin Richman  has loved attending our events over the years but noticed he was often the eldest in the audience. In a bid to connect older communities with the power of culture and creativity, something Rich Mix pioneers in Tower Hamlets, Martin will run a series of workshops with Heritage Learning Facilitator Halima Khanom to tease out personal histories from those that know East London best. Participants will draw upon personal objects and memories which connect their own lives to East London. Martin, a visual artist, will then use these as a basis to form a permanent light installation that reflects the history and dynamism of East London. 


Based in Hackney Wick, Martin has an impressive body of work, with several pieces permanently installed here in East London. 

“I think I was always interested in light, reflection and colour. As a child I was always fooling around with stuff and once took the ink tube from a ballpoint pen and stuck it up the kitchen tap to see what would happen. Later that day, my mother was doing the wash and everything was turning blue. Assuming the plumbing was faulty she called the plumber and I remember her shouting down the phone, rather frantically! Around the age of 13, I started playing around with coloured lights in my bedroom, but I was also interested in music and by the age of 16 I’d saved up for a drum kit and joined a band, but soon discovered that I couldn’t actually play. At the time, lots of musicians were doing light shows as part of their gig, so I started doing light-shows for the band.” 

Martin went on to study at art school and now has stunning portfolio of work based around the world. His light instillations have featured on major bridges, including Bethnal Green Bridge, and a permanent art installation, of his, Underwhirl, can be found in Olympic Park. 

Read more about  Martin Richman Artist Extraordinaire. 

Illuminate is a Rich Mix commission. This project is part o f Here and Now – a national and local celebration of culture within communities. 40 brand new projects will take place in and around 40 arts centres across the country, led by artists and co-created with local people. 

The project is supported by Arts Council England and Future Arts Centres, marking The National Lottery’s 25th birthday.