A RENOWNED screenwriter is shining a new light on both Patrick Bronte and the secret cellar of the famous father’s Haworth home.

Frank Cottrell-Boyce has created an “illuminating” installation as part of celebrations for the 200th anniversary of Patrick becoming the village’s church minister.

How My Light is Spent is in the cellar of the Bronte Parsonage Museum, a room never before open to the public. The display will run from August 10 to November 1 and is free with admission to the museum.

Cottrell-Boyce is the Bronte Society’s creative partner for 2019, as part of the year of events celebrating the father of novelists Charlotte, Emily and Ann Bronte.

He is a successful British screenwriter whose film credits include Welcome to Sarajevo, Hilary and Jackie and 24 Hour Party People. Millions, his debut children’s novel, won the 2004 Carnegie Medal and was shortlisted for the Guardian Children’s Fiction Award.

Cottrell-Boyce has collaborated with illumination artists Illuminos, creative audio-visual specialists Lumen and leading artist Jo Pocock to devise an innovative installation in Haworth.

How My Light is Spent will explore Patrick Bronte’s memories as he recovered from a cataract operation, without anaesthetic, at the age of 70, having already outlived his wife and two of his children.

For the first time visitors will be able to enter the Parsonage cellar where they will experience an immersive sensory installation that combines elements of theatre, light and sound.

Cottrell-Boyce said: “I first came to the Parsonage on a family day out and I wanted to help create something there that would be an enjoyable part of a family visit.

“Something that would be exciting as well as illuminating. Something that would give you something to talk about on the way home in the car or on the train. Something with a bit of mystery and magic that would be accessible to the youngest but would satisfy the oldest.”

How My Light Is Spent will allow audiences to share Patrick’s experience of darkness, hear the memories he held dear and see the dreams and visions he shared with Charlotte, who had cared for him following the operation.

It was at this time that she began to write Jane Eyre.

Visit Bronte.org.uk or call 01535 642323 for further information.

A museum spokesman said the life of Patrick Bronte was intercut with moments of extreme joy – at his marriage to Maria Branwell and at his children’s success – but also with periods of profound sorrow.

From humble beginnings as a weaver’s apprentice, Patrick’s life was transformed when he was offered lessons by a local minister who, legend has it, discovered him reading aloud from Milton’s Paradise Lost.

By 16 he was a school teacher, and he went on to study at Cambridge University before being ordained as a clergyman and later settling in Haworth.

Cottrell-Boyce added: “Patrick was ‘the father of genius’. In an age of limited opportunities for women he encouraged his daughters to be well-read and aware of the political struggles of the age.

“In an age of strongly defined social hierarchy he managed to propel himself from rural poverty in Ireland to a Cambridge College, something that rarely happens even now.

“He was vastly learned and successful but he remained deeply engaged with the needs of his community, campaigning for their health.

“Mrs Gaskell’s attempts to make Charlotte sound more like one of her own romantic heroines meant that Patrick ended up with a reputation as a bad-tempered eccentric tyrant.

“I wanted to grab the opportunity to help correct that and to celebrate the role that family plays in nurturing creativity.”

Harry Jelley, Audience Development Officer at the Bronte Society, said How My Light Is Spent had been a hugely collaborative project with many creative minds coming together to make something magical happen at the museum..

He added: It’s been brilliant working with Frank Cottrell-Boyce as he explored the life of Patrick Bronte and devised this poignant, enchanting experience.

“The artists, Jo Pocock, Illuminos and Lumen, have each brought their own imaginations and skill to the project to create an installation which has deeply emotional themes and an otherworldly feeling.

“We think our visitors will be wowed when they step inside this fantastic world.”

Visit Bronte.org.uk or call 01535 642323 for further information.

Cottrell-Boyce’s second novel, Framed, was shortlisted for the 2005 Whitbread Children’s Fiction Award and has also been shortlisted for the 2005 Carnegie Medal.

His third novel, Cosmic, was shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal, the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize and the Roald Dahl Funny Prize.

Frank has also written a sequel to the much-loved Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and the heartwarming Runaway Robot.

Jo Pocock is artistic director, sculptor and designer for The Lantern Company.

Jo has worked locally, nationally and internationally in theatre, dance, site specific events, carnival and visual arts in various capacities in a career spanning almost 30 years.

Exploring animation, design, performance and inventive ways of using light and shadow, both within her own work and in socially engaged practices, has been a long-term interest which led to the founding of the Lantern Company in 2003.

Often found outdoors, Jo has worked in many unlikely and challenging settings both small scale and giant.

As a freelance artist, Jo has worked for many companies including Welfare State International, Walk the Plank, English Shakespeare Co, Improbable Theatre, Liverpool City Council and Manchester International Festival.

She was an original company member of the Olivier award-winning Shockheaded Peter.

Illuminos are brothers Matt and Rob Vale, who for over 10 years have been creating visually inventive, memorable projection artworks and experiences.

Their works range from large-scale illumination to that imagery, but always working to create something unique and specific to location and viewer.

Formed around a principal of People, Site, Animation, and often combining elements of installation, dance, theatre, pyrotechnics and music, each project that they approach develops from an exploration of the emotions of an environment, aiming to capture the essence of a place, space or feeling as a shared moment of time.

Whilst the work incorporates new digital media and complex equipment, the brothers are interested in combining these new technologies with notions of the curio, the Victorian penny machines or Edwardian Automata, visual wonders and spectacles that amused, engaged and intrigued.

Recent works such as Illuminating Shakespeare (Stratford), Jingwei and the Ocean (Liverpool) or Momentous (Leeds) seek to recreate and elevate this visual experience for the contemporary society through digital means.

Illuminos work internationally on high-profile events, from Les Troyens for Lyric Opera, Chicago, to the 2017 Capital of Culture closing ceremony with Walk The Plank in Paphos, Cyprus.

They created a vast chocolate factory for City of the Unexpected - the city-wide centenary celebrations of Roald Dahl in Cardiff.

Lumen hire out audio/visual equipment, and have technicians with a range of skills as sound engineers, projectionists, gallery and museum installation, and video technicians.

They specialise in working with artists and creative organisations, offering advice to help introduce technical planning at an early stage, to try and imagine what something might look like, or sound like, and how that might be achieved.

DK 12 Jul 2019 bronte light expo

Glasses for projection at the upcoming Brontë Parsonage Museum exhibition. Picture by Illuminos