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The Stradbroke lighting company illuminating Barack Obama and Buckingham Palace




From Barack Obama to Buckingham Palace, lighting technician Torben Marriot has illuminated some of the world’s best-known people and attractions.

But the coronavirus pandemic has cast a dark, looming shadow over his industry, of which he has been at the forefront of for almost half a century.

Raised in London, Mr Marriot, 73, worked as a photographer in the capital before becoming the assistant editor at Camera Magazine.

Torben Merriott has been working in the lighting industry for close to half a century. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE PHOTOGRAPHY.
Torben Merriott has been working in the lighting industry for close to half a century. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE PHOTOGRAPHY.

After relocating to Eye with his wife, former language tutor Pamie Marriot, 72, the father-of-two took up working alongside his brother-in-law, Roger Weever, the chief lighting designer at the Mermaid Theatre in London.

Not long after this, Mr Marriot established Blackwing Ltd, and began hiring out his own equipment, fitting out concert halls across the continent.

“In those days, the idea of lighting being a career was very young; there were only a couple of lighting businesses in Britain,” he said.

Soon, Blackwing had become one of the better known lighting companies in East Anglia, but still, ultimately, a one-man-shop.

And it was this independent profile that allowed Mr Marriot to illuminate Buckingham Palace, as part of British Design Week.

“They were given instructions to support small businesses instead of going for one of the larger companies that they normally would,” he said.

From there, he became a regular name on Her Majesty’s payroll, even providing lighting for former US President Barack Obama’s state visit in 2011.

“A lot of kudos comes with that – not everyone can say they have personally lit the palace,” he added.

Just as with so many businesses, however, work has slowed since the pandemic began.

“Everything has totally shut down,” he said. “It’s like somebody just switched the lights off. Everything was completely cancelled ­– there’s absolutely zero work.

“But there are people worse off than me. I have never borrowed any money; I have built this business out of my own profit.”



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