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Knight of Illumination Awards. And the winners of the 2009 edition are...
Lighting Designer
John O’Brien, Chris Kempton, Will Charles, Gurdip Mahal, Rob Sinclair, Davy Sherwin,Andi Watson, Michael Hulls, Adam Silverman, Jon Clark, Kevin Adams, Mark White

The highly successful and much participated second edition of the Knight of Illumination Awards closed with a thrilling ceremony. The awards are promoted and organized by Clay Paky in collaboration with the trade associations ALD and STLD. They are the only international awards designed to provide public recognition to the deserving work of lighting designers in the theatre, touring and television sectors.

The award-giving ceremony took place in the Enterprise Suite, Hotel Ibis, Earls Court, London on 13 September 2009. Clay Paky – with the precious event-partnership of Hawthorn Theatrical and Richard Martin Lighting – set up a high-scenic-impact lighting rig in the Suite, mainly using the new Alpha 700 Spot HPE, Wash and Beam lights.

Almost 350 highly qualified sector workers came along, including lighting designers, manufacturers, rental companies, dealers, trade associations and the specialist media, as Clay Paky Sales and Marketing Manager Pio Nahum proudly emphasized: “We managed to bring the most eminent personalities in the professional entertainment sector together in one place for the whole evening, in the name of what we all have in common: a passion for light! A great party that everyone appreciated.”

Enrico Caironi, Clay Paky Corporate Marketing Advisor and one the main men behind the event, said: “We worked hard to achieve this goal. We knew we had a great chance, but also a great responsibility. I would like to thank publicly everyone who contributed to the success of the event, especially the associations ALD and STLD, without whose precious help this event wouldn’t have been the same.”

The chairmen of the three award categories, Stuart Gain (television), Durham Marenghi (rock), Rick Fisher (theatre) and John Watt (who presented the coveted Lifetime Recognition Award), agreed in emphasizing the efficiency and standard of excellence with which Clay Paky organized the awards. They also underlined that the event was a precious occasion for the different sectors of the world of lighting design and the sector industry to meet and exchange opinions.

Among the exceptional guests that added lustre to the evening were the Italian Consul General for London Uberto Vanni D’Archirafi, the CEO of Plasa Matthew Griffiths, the CEO of ABTT Mark White, the executive director of the Theatres Trust Miss Mhora Samuel and Hans-Joachim Schwabe, Deputy Chairman and CEO of OSRAM, the official sponsor of the evening.

The event opened with a welcome aperitif, followed by a dinner prepared by a team of gourmet chefs. There was live background music and a mix of special lighting effects and video, which pleasantly entertained the guests and gradually involved them emotionally in the atmosphere of the evening.

The highlight was of course the announcement of the twelve award winning LDs: four for the TV, four for the theatre, three for rock and a special lifetime recognition award. They were chosen from among the thirty nominees by a panel of highly specialized judges coordinated by the two trade associations. Each winner received a prestigious trophy: a real sword made in Toledo, Spain. The sword is a precious copy of those used by medieval knights, and symbolizes the arms LDs use to defend their professional values in the world they work in. So, rather than an award, it was a true investiture!

“It was gratifying,” concluded Nahum, “to note that the announcement of the winner was emotionally important for all the lighting designers there. This means the Clay Paky Knight of Illumination Awards have become an authoritative prize desired by the whole sector, for which lighting designers are eager and proud to compete”.

After the awards were presented, there was a short ceremony during which a donation was made to Light Relief, an important nonprofit association well known in the show lighting business. Pasquale Quadri, the President of Clay Paky, put the cheque into the hands of Matthew Griffiths, John Simpson, Rick Fisher and Lesley Harmer, the trustees of Light Relief, who publicly expressed their appreciation for Clay Paky’s gesture of awareness towards the needy in our sector.

Below are the winners in the various categories, and the reasons given by the judges for assigning the awards:


John O’Brien for “The Bill”
This long running soap has seen many changes over the years, so it was good to see a well balanced entry for this awards. Scenes ranging from the realistic interview room, the atmosphere of the incident room and the exterior night scenes showed off all the lighting techniques used to good effect.

Chris Kempton for “Jonathan Ross”
This regular show has become a firm audience favourite. The clean lighting of the interview area combined well with the set and the band Lighting was felt to be coherent, thoughtful and exciting.

Will Charles for “The Album chart Show”
This had dramatic use of colour temperature of lighting on the faces and pushed the pictures to their technical limits. The live feel of the show was maintained throughout and the contrast with the interview setup gave a good mix.

Gurdip Mahal for “BBC Sports Personality”
This was a large venue to cover, which was achieved well. The show had the feeling of a special event with excellent wide shots. Presenter positions were on the whole covered well and the lighting was always restrained but effective and controlled.


ROCK – Stage
RobSinclair for “Goldfrapp”
This stood out as an integrated lighting & visuals design – combining lighting and video seamlessly and elegantly. Rob also evolved the set design after discussions with the artist, bringing a third dimension to the show’s visuality, which helped energise and bring the whole experience to life onstage.

ROCK – Arena
Davy Sherwin for “Snow Patrol”
Fabulous use of colour matching between lighting and video visuals. Davy and Robin Haddow worked as one in producing a coherent, beautiful, interesting and exciting visual design for the band. It seamlessly fused lighting, playback video/live visuals and moving (automated) elements, creating a show to articulate the performance dynamics – without being gimmicky or crass.

Rock – “Eco Friendly Tour”
Andi Watson for “Radiohead”
One blogger said about the show: “Over the years, their shows have increasingly used breathtaking state-of-the art lighting to frame their performances. This year the band employed dozens of LED lighting columns suspended from the ceiling. At times they would make the stage look like a cathedral. Sometimes they could make it appear as if the ceiling was melting (that’s right, druggies, you wasted your money, it did that for all of us).”


Michael Hulls for “Eonnagata”
The judges cited that the lighting was so integral to the performance it was impossible to imagine what the piece would have been like in just working light. The lighting was part-painterly, part-sculptural – even the shadows were a part of the performance. Here too was a piece that was deeply affected by and enhanced by the lighting design.

Adam Silverman for “Peter Grimes”
The critics said the Lighting was utterly integral to the expression of a bold interpretation of the opera, creating stark, spine-chilling moments. At times, the lighting enabled the audience to feel the salt spray and evoked the look of wet sunlight.

Jon Clark for “Three Days of Rain”
the panel singled out Jon use of side-lighting to lower and raise the temperature, and not just in the effective rain-drenched sequences referred to in the title. The sunny warmth stealing over the second act was in powerful contrast to the atmospheric cheerlessness he cast over the initial proceedings.

Kevin Adams for “Spring Awakening”
Kevin’s lighting vividly expressed the emotional atmosphere of the show and created an aesthetic that made an immersive experience. Particularly noted was the bold use of light bulbs and fluorescent tubes.


Mark White

Australian by birth, he moved to the UK determined to work in the theatre. Soon he became chief electrician at Richmond Theatre, and few years later technical manager with the Maybox group of seven theatres until they were taken over after a couple of years. Then followed a succession of jobs, R & D at Howard Eaton, electrical manager at Kempton Walker. Somewhere along the line he was House electrician on “Cats”.

In 1992 John Hastie asked him as a freelance to assist in the installation of point hoists at the yet to be refurbished Royal Opera House. Four and a half years later and still there his role changed to ROH development and he did his first CAD drawing for the new house in April 95.

By July 1997 he morphed into consultant on probably the biggest job in London with not only the lighting installation but the electrical system and the moving elements too. A great achievement during this time was to convert the planned orchestral rehearsal room into a stand alone studio theatre.

Mark White is now a captain of industry running ETCs UK and European operation with his well honed unflappable demeanour.