SCIENTISTS are hoping to fire up the creative imaginations of the next generation of physicists at a light art trail this Christmas.

Following the success of last year's inaugural light trail, Sir Harold Hillier Gardens will once again be opening its gates after dark.

The 180-acre arboretum site near Ampfield will be transformed with a series of light art installations by international artists and leading designers.

PhD photonics students from the University of Southampton will be on hand to meet visitors and explain the science of light and how it fits into the modern world.

Hampshire Chronicle: Jermyns HouseJermyns House (Image: Elliott Franks)

READ MORE: Sir Harold Hillier Gardens Christmas trail to return

Dr Pearl John, public engagement leader in physics and astronomy at the University of Southampton, said: "The light art looks amazing and the creativity involved in making it is rightly recognised but without the science, the physics and optical engineering, it might never be able to leave the artist's imagination.

"So, to have scientists at arts events such as Light Up Trails is really important to us. We want to engage with young people who are yet to even recognise the science in what they're seeing."

Light Up Trails directors Libby Battaglia and Lucinda Croft said: "The artists and designers we work with at Light Up Trails are absolutely brilliant, but so are the scientists and technologists who enable their work.

"Light Up Sir Harold Hillier Gardens at Christmas is made up of wonderful, beautiful, immersive moments - the stuff that lifelong happy memories are made of - so to find out something about how and why they work has totally blown us away.”

Hampshire Chronicle: Luminescence by James Smith using Fibre OpticsLuminescence by James Smith using Fibre Optics (Image: Elliott Franks)

Light art designer James Smith says light artists would be unable to realise their work without utilising the advances made in science and technology.

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He said: "My background is in maths, physics and chemistry and it's all there in the art I make and the designs I create.

"Artists are storytellers and light art is all about telling stories using reflection and refraction, but artists also have a keen understanding of science and technology. Without maths and physics and engineering the ideas would never come off the computer screen.

"Mixing colours, for instance, is only possible because science enables art as it always has done. That is very obviously true where light art and projection is concerned, but it's nothing new.

“Essentially, what we do with Light Up Sir Harold Hillier Gardens At Christmas is take theatre outside at night and since the very earliest days of theatre, science has played a part in helping artists tell stories."

Trail highlights this year include the premiere of a new creation by The Projection Studio, specialists in making art on an architectural scale, that tells the story of the pine Christmas Tree and Radiant Grove, an installation designed to transport visitors into a realm of coloured laser beams, mirrors and rave dance music.

The light trail is open from Thursday, November 30 to Sunday, December 31.

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