Peter Wynne Willson is an internationally renowned lighting designer and inventor. In 1962 Peter began working in the theatre, first as an electrician at Buxton Repertory Theatre, then at The Fortune Theatre Drury Lane. By 17 he was chief electrician at Harrogate Theatre, and later operated the lighting console at The Albery Theatre for the original West End production of Oliver!
He worked with Pink Floyd between 1966 and 1968 when he created light shows for their performances at UFO and the Roundhouse; he went on to design the lighting for the Floyd’s UK, European and American gigs and tours.
From 1972 to 1980, Peter worked on prismatic and colour effects, which were manufactured by his Light Machine Company. During this time, in 1980, he invented the Pancan remote-control reflector system, which launched a decade of moving mirror entertainment lighting.
In 1986, Peter set up WWG Ltd., his long running lighting partnership, with the late Tony Gottelier. He continues to design lighting devices, highlights of which include: ‘Dalek’ colour generators and projection effects for Pink Floyd’s Division Bell tour; ‘Razorhead’ high-speed searchlights for U2’s Popmart tour; liquid-light effects for Roger Waters’ world tours; and award-winning ‘Catalyst’ for digital media manipulation. The ‘Catalyst’ system is at large with George Michael, American Idol, five Eurovision Contests, Fame Academy, The Sugar Babes, Pink, Barry Manilow, Grand Central Station NY, and the Opening of the Beijing Olympics. WWG were founder members of PLASA, the Professional Lighting and Sound Association.
Other items include ‘Fantôme’ automated ecliptic framing spotlights for Het Muziektheater, Amsterdam, Kammerspieler Theatre, Munich and the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; high-power overhead projectors and special effects for the Syd Barrett tributes at The Barbican and Queen Elizabeth Hall; a massive airborne searchlight for the Red Bull Air Show and liquid special effects for Scissor Sisters’ concerts.
A recent invention is a flowing colour device licensed as ‘VersaTube’, for installations, among them O2’s new Dublin HQ, the Grammy and MTV Awards, and used by numerous artists, including The Police and Sting, R.E.M., Prince at the Superbowl, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and latterly Daft Punk, Coldplay and Radiohead for their current tour.
Peter lives and has his studio on a farm in the Cotswolds dividing his time between there and Cambridge. Since working in Earlham Street, an apartment he shared with Syd Barett and others in 1967, his focus on creating lighting effects has not reduced by a single dioptre!