The skeletal remains of Brighton’s once glorious West Pier, destroyed by a series of suspicious fires, are a melancholy sight among the noise and bright lights of the seafront.

While still a beloved part of the local scenery, pride has been, for most, replaced with protectiveness. As the trust which owns the pier began this week dismantling the remains of the collapsed concert hall near the shore, a one-off art event will offer a timely reminder of happier days in the life of the “Grand Old Lady”.

French lighting studio Creatmosphere, in collaboration with the West Pier Trust and local artists, will conjure the ghost of the pier on the site of its charred remains. Using a series of powerful, mathematically programmed lasers, the wreck will effectively be “re-built” in light.

“Basically, a structure is going to appear out of nowhere, moving and oscillating,” explains Niki Best, a Brighton-based artist who has helped create the event. “You will be able to see it for miles around.”

It’s a technically ambitious project that has been months in the making, yet it is fairly typical of Creatmosphere’s work. Founder Laurent Louyer has created electroluminescent trees for the Royal Horticultural Society, used light to connect mills, weirs and bridges in Durham and launched hundreds of illuminated spheres down the Thames.

His aim is: “To encourage the viewer to both reconsider an environment through the way in which our installation illuminates it, and to reconsider the nature of light and its application.”

Niki says: “It’s very much a French thing, lighting up buildings. They are very good at it, but we don’t really do it as much here, which is a shame. When you light buildings it gives them a whole new personality – bares their soul, almost.

It’s also a very affectionate thing to do, like giving the building a big hug.”

Commissioned by Tiger Beer (2010 is the Year of the Tiger), A Pier Appears is the first of eight events that will take place across the UK to mark Chinese New Year. Brighton’s represents water, one of the elements of the Chinese zodiac.

Niki’s excitement about the project is palpable. “The West Pier is the perfect structure to do this sort of thing with because it will be so beautiful visually and people have such an incredible affection for it,” says Niki. “Having it as a one-night thing only makes it even more special.”

From 6pm-10pm, free. Visit or for more details