Public Art / Trace Elements

'Trace Elements' is a public art intervention that brings light to the public paths

Title: Trace Elements
Date: 2006
Media: Light installation
Dimensions: 15m x 10m
Material: Programmed LED channels 
Commissioned by: Complex Developments Projects

'Trace Elements' is a public art commission created by Esther Rolinson for Electric Wharf living and working housing development on the former Power station, Sandy Lane, Coventry. The multimedia artist used to create artworks that are typically above the eye level or part of building structures had a shift in her art practice during the creative process of Trace Elements.


Many layers of power cables and disused infrastructure were embedded into the site’s surface under the new building works. Using a geometric drawing language, Trace Elements marks out channels in light across the surface, softly animated as if the underlying currents are active and ready to emerge.


Most of Esther Rolinson’s artworks have as a starting point drawings made by hand. In a sophisticated gesture, she constructs complex systems and forms that later she extends into three dimensions in her art installations. During making 'Trace Elements', she decided to bring the drawings into space in a different mode, with the light lines that complete the drawing gestures. 

A public art intervention that Esther Rolinson created for her hometown

Esther Rolinson coincidentally had grown up in Coventry, so her experience and background took on an additional relevance to the making of Trace Elements.Based on her understanding of the area and its context, it was essential to highlight a focal and arrival point at the project’s inception.

Esther’s research culminated in a design for a permanent large-scale light artwork sited at the entrance to Electric Wharf and based on a grid or mesh structure that refers to the electric cables laid underground the site. The final version of this installation comprised hundreds of metres of LED strips inset into railway sleepers that were programmed to create a wave-like motion of light at the entrance of 'Trace Elements'. 'Trace Elements' was the perfect title for this public art commission.