Wheels of Light

Designs for British light shows 1970-1990

By Kevin Foakes

Emerging from avant-garde art performances of the 1960s, light shows became the hip accompaniment to gigs and clubs in the 1970s. Swirling coloured oils and kaleidoscopic patterns were projected across bands and venues, while 360 degree painted ‘panorama wheels’ would slowly rotate in projectors, showing only a section of the image at any one time. Wheels of Light brings together the images made by the key projection companies that sprung up in the UK, including Optikinetics, Pluto and Orion, and tells their story. From beautiful abstracts to visions of outer space, the designs for these rotating projections are a snapshot of the creativity and inventiveness of an era. A joyful tribute to an unfamiliar corner of British counterculture. From abstract psychedelia to alien planets Wheels of Light offers a snapshot of the creativity and inventiveness of an era. The ninth title in the popular Irregulars series, exploring unfamiliar corners of art history in the UK. Kevin Foakes is a graphic designer, DJ and collector who also creates immersive light and sound environments with Pete Williams under the moniker Further.