Dave Bryant - Biography

Lighting & Special Effects Design  -  Environmental Artist - Creative Director

Dave Bryant was born in Bath, Somerset in 1960. From an early age, Dave had a keen interest in theatre and performance art. 

He was the first student of Theatre Design at A level in London. Obtaining the highest ‘A’ grade he went on to study Technical Theatre Arts at the Rose Bruford College of Speech and Drama. 

Obsessed with theatre and music Dave participated in many youth theatres and local music events.  Whilst still at school he started his first commercial venture by running a mobile disco and light show in south London with school friend Michael Townsend

After his college years Dave started his professional career at the Theatre Royal, York in stage management and prop-making. He later returned to the West Country to join the technical team at the Bristol Little Theatre as chief stage technician. 

Whilst at the Little Theatre, Dave was instrumental in designing the special effects for Raymond Briggs’ stage version of When the Wind Blows. The show was the first to introduce laser lighting effects to the Theatre. The show later transferred to London and the West End. 

Dave then spent several years working in many of the venues in Bristol before becoming a lighting designer for the Bristol Old Vic Theatre and then freelancing between London and West Country theatres. He tutored for the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain and Bristol Old Vic Theatre School

After several years working in theatre it was time to return to London.  He immediately touched base with his old school friend, Michael Townsend and they embarked on several lighting projects together. Designing a new lighting scheme for Richard Branson’s club venue, ‘The Roof Gardens’ saw the partnership firmly established. The demand for their lighting services grew rapidly. Living and working in a West London warehouse, a company was formed – Midnight Design

It provided a new approach to lighting and effects. It was the first lighting company to offer designers, technicians and equipment sales and rental from one source. It proved to be a huge success and Midnight rapidly grew to become one of London’s most successful lighting and effects companies. The company built a reputation on providing innovative designs at the highest level of quality and service. No project was too complex. The team thrived on challenges. 

The scope of work increased and soon Dave was in demand in all areas of the industry from music to fashion, exhibition to convention, politics and parties. The work took him all over the world. Dave’s thirst for innovation saw the company diversify into special effects and develop huge water and fire special effects systems. 

Throughout this period Dave maintained his links with the theatre and arts worlds. His work with Scottish art group NVA saw the development of huge environmental arts projects and led to Dave’s passion for lighting in big outdoor spaces. This fuelled his hunger for creating the unusual and started his love for creating spectacular hill figures in light. 

The first project of this nature was the lighting of The Long Man of Wilmington. For a birthday wheeze he invited his twin brother and several friends to accompany him to Sussex where, under the cover of darkness, unannounced and without permission they unfurled a kilometre of pea lights and outlined the giant hill figure. It was a huge success and visible for miles. Three hours later they had packed the lights away and vanished. Since that first stunt Dave has created numerous light experiences and delighted unsuspecting viewers. On a smaller scale Dave is developing ‘light as art’ - sculptural pictures and free standing installations that only exist to be enjoyed. 

In 1999, Dave sold the company in London. Returning to the West Country he has set up base in Swimbridge, North Devon. A new company, Spirit Design, was formed with offices in London and Devon. The company is a partnership of designers working in all aspects of commercial lighting, design and event production. Recent improvements in communications technology and internet services have enabled him to be based almost anywhere in the world.

Dave has recently converted his derelict agricultural barn into a state of the art lighting and design studio. The facility will enable designs to be created, simulated and visualised here in Devon, for shows, events and productions that may be happening anywhere around the globe.

The fantastic peace and tranquillity that Devon affords us also provides a brilliant location for developing light sculptures and environmental animations without the interruptions of city life. Dave has plans for setting up a training facility here as part of the studio.

Dave started out twenty five years ago in the West Country and would now like to bring some of the skills and experiences that he gained back here, for a new generation to learn and embrace. 

With the recent overwhelming success of large scale and community events like LightQuest SouthWest, plans are underway for a series of ground-breaking projects and shows in 2003.

'A love of light has provided me with a passport to the world.'

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