Power of Light

To celebrate the 125th anniversary of Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Luke worked with their team in Freetown, Sierra Leone in collaboration with their ARISE programme. Right from the start, he was keen to design, develop and help deliver a creative project that also have long term benefits for the local community.

Helping to empower local communities they worked with local teams to install 21 solar powered LED streetlights within the informal settlements (sometimes referred to as slums) of Freetown. They installed the permanent lighting in public areas including water collection areas, alleyways, and toilets.

Collaborating with local artists to create paper lanterns around ARISE themes of safety, education, work, play and pride, they were paraded through Freetown as part of a streetlighting opening ceremony.  The 60 small LED lights used to illuminate the lanterns were then given away to the participating children afterwards enabling them to navigate at night more safely and do their homework in the evenings.

This documentary film describing the journey of this project will form part of a new light artwork Luke is hoping to make, designed to tour light festivals, raising money for more developmental work in Freetown.

Importance of Lighting

For many families living in informal settlements, their streets and homes can be dark and dangerous in the evening. Hours are spent every day (commonly women and children) collecting water from local wells. Freetown also experiences citywide power cuts each day, and navigating the poorly lit alleyways at night is fraught with danger. This project has empowered local community groups to help them transform their city. As well as building a new community of artists, Power of Light has left a legacy of solar powered LED lighting in several vulnerable communities of Freetown.


ARISE is a research consortium set up to enhance accountability and improve the health and wellbeing of marginalised populations living in informal urban settlements in partnership with researchers, policy makers, civil society and co-researchers in Bangladesh, India, Kenya and Sierra Leone. Read report from ARISE about this project. 

New Touring Light Artwork 

After his experience in Sierra Leone, Luke hopes to make a new light installation that will tour venues in the UK to raise funds for more solar lighting to be installed in Freetown.


With thanks 

Funders include: Liverpool City Council, Luke Jerram Ltd, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.

Partners include: ARISE Hub, Codohsapa/FedurpSierra Leone Urban Research Centre, College of Medicine and Allied Health SciencesCentre of Dialogue on Human Settlement and Poverty Alleviation, Freetown steering committee.