Your Interview Aideen Malone
Introduce yourself (name, company, position, country) and tell us how you got into lighting design (including education/qualifications).
My name is Aideen Malone, a UK based independent lighting designer working in both the entertainment and architectural industries. Growing up in Ireland with a large family, creativity was always encouraged. Initially, this happened through music, where every time people gathered for an occasion. I started singing and playing the guitar from an early age and always enjoyed the performance element. In school, I learned to play the cello and took part in the yearly musical, where I grew a passion for stage performance. Like many people who go to see live performance, I could connect with the actor on stage without knowing much about the other elements involved. To gain knowledge of all aspects of the performing arts, I completed a BA in drama and theatre where I discovered the magic of lighting design. As part of my course, I did all the roles involved in making a show. When I did my first lighting design, I fell in love with the quality of light and how it could transform anything. I loved this element that was difficult to describe but emotionally drove straight to the heart. I knew immediately I wanted to pursue a life with light at its centre. I have been creating lighting designs for productions for 30 years now and I still love it. As a entertainment lighting designer, I have worked within many styles of buildings. As theatres are always at the heart of a community’s built environment, I have always been fascinated by the how these spaces are lit. In 2021, I decided to pursue this fascination further, by completing a masters in light and lighting at University College London. I am now currently paving my way into the architectural lighting industry as an independent lighting designer, as well as working on productions.
Tell us about your work – is there a specific type of project you like to work on or an area you specialise in and why?
The beauty of being a lighting designer in the arts is how collaborative the process is. I love working with a team to develop a lighting design that creates an environment with angles, colour, texture, rhythm, and movement. Whilst using light to build magical worlds in theatre, dance, opera, I have created many light scenography. One of my favourites is Darbar Festival at Sadlers Wells, where I designed a moving light sculpture made of 441 lightbulbs on 21 automated bars. The effect of this was mesmerising and was directly responsible for me pursuing my career further in architectural lighting. It was also from this experience, Sadlers Wells approached me to be a lighting consultant for the foyer of their new theatre in Stratford, London, where I also created the feature lighting design.
What project are you most proud of and why?
I have many works I am proud of, but A Monster Calls is one of my favourite designs for theatre. The show was devised and was a pure collaboration from start to finish. The piece had such a big emotional heart to it and the team collaboration was clear in every moment. I am really interested in creating work, whatever the environment, that impacts people in only the way light can, imperceptibly and emotionally without realising how or why but enriching their experience.
What is the biggest challenge that you have overcome in your career?
I would say the biggest challenge in my career was going back to university at 50 and paving my way into a new industry. Looking forward to overcoming the second part of this challenge.
How does light inspire you?
Light inspires me every day. The sky window I see first thing in the morning. The sun’s angle, colour, and revelation of form I may see depending on the time of year. The pattern of light that focuses how people use interior spaces. The light that tells a story. The ability to see things in different ways every day.
What is your message for other Women In Lighting?
I have had the pleasure of working with the ethereal element of light for 30 years and hope to do so for another 30 more years at least. My advice to other women in lighting is to carry on creating even against the odds and to support up and coming young women designers all over the world so our collective can keep growing.
“Light inspires me every day. The sky window I see first thing in the morning. The sun’s angle, colour, and revelation of form I may see depending on the time of year. The pattern of light that focuses how people use interior spaces. The light that tells a story. The ability to see things in different ways every day.”