POOLE's annual festival of digital light art returns next month – and organisers hope the accompanying series of talks will be every bit as illuminating as the outdoor installations.

Light Up Poole's theme this year is 'Spectrum' and speakers include television historian Dr Janina Ramirez; Professor Mark McCaughrean, senior science advisor at the European Space Agency; medieval history expert Professor Giles Gaspar from Durham University, and Bournemouth-based lighting designer Michael Grubb.

Meanwhile, Cressida Granger, managing director of Mathmos will join researchers from Oxford University’s Diseases of Modern Life Group to compare how Victorians coped with the impact of new technology with how we deal with it today.

Light artist Ross Ashton, one of the festival organisers, said: "Each talk is an opportunity for people to come along and find out a bit more about the stories behind the art they are going to see in the festival.

"We’re covering a wide range of topics with some fascinating responses to the ‘Spectrum’ theme.

"I don’t know of any other light festivals that are doing this, but we’ve done a lot of work with academics and found the cross pollination of ideas is huge.

"Certainly, having been in conversation with them we’ve found we’re able to create art in a very different way.

"It is a two way street of good ideas.”

Funded by Arts Council England and main sponsor Poole BID, with additional contributions from BCP Council and private businesses, Light Up Poole runs from February 20-22, showcasing the work of local, emerging and international artists with a series of commissioned digital light art installations and projections around the town.

There will also be creative participation events, educational elements and guest speakers to show Poole in a new light.

The talks are ticketed events held at Lighthouse, Poole’s centre for the arts, on Friday, February 21 and Saturday, February22, culminating in the Light Up Family Rave in the centre's concert hall with Berlin underground DJ Kenny Mitchell and urban grooves mixologist DJ Pixi J.

The programme of talks also includes Cressida Granger, managing director of Mathmos, the Poole-based lighting company responsible for the original lava lamp in 1963.

She’ll talk about the business and the company’s founder, eccentric entrepreneur Edward Craven Walker.

“We’re really excited about the partnership with Light Up Poole, it seems like it was always meant to be,” says Cressida, who has owned Mathmos since the 1990s.

“We’re very proud of the fact we have been making the lava lamp in Poole for 56 years.

"There can’t be many products in manufacturing with that kind of heritage. Mathmos has had its ups and downs over the years and the business has expanded and contracted but it has never gone away and next year we are moving into a bigger factory in the centre of Poole, which is really exciting.”

Visit www.lightuppoole.co.uk for information.