Ross Ashton and The Projection Studio’s ground-breaking “Crown of Light” projected artwork on Durham Cathedral in the UK – created for the 2009 Lumière – was back by popular demand for this year’s four-day festival of light event, which is curated and produced by Artichoke for Durham City Council.
Lumière 2011 featured the work of dozens of artists, lighting designers and community groups in 35 installations, bringing a “sparkle of magic” to the beautiful medieval city.
“It’s a real testament to the piece and very flattering to be asked back with the same show,” said Ashton. “It’s also extremely rare for the same creation to be requested again in its entirety, offering those who enjoyed the experience the first time around the chance to do so again, a new audience the opportunity to see it for the first time plus real value for the producers.”@page_break@
“Crown of Light” covered the entire north fascia of the Cathedral including all sides of the three towers, and was the festival’s largest installation. Durham Cathedral dates back to 1093 and is regarded as one of the finest examples of Norman architecture in the country. It is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site along with nearby Durham Castle which faces it across Palace Green.
Ashton created the projection show’s storyboard after an initial brief from Artichoke’s Helen Marriage and Nicky Webb. He took ideas related to its narrative and direction and then added and developed his own input. The story captured the history of the Cathedral including the Lindisfarne Gospels, noted for their amazing accompanying imagery and spectacular Celtic calligraphy. These were originated by the Lindisfarne Monks and stored in Durham Cathedral for many years, along with the bones of St Cuthbert which still reside there. Ashton’s show also explored the building as an architectural space and its relationship with and historical significance to the City.@page_break@
Ashton and Paul Chatfield evolved the PIGI projection images in collaboration with musical director Robert Ziegler, who compiled a soundscape for the 16-minute show. Ashton sourced images from the British Library and also conducted a photo shoot at the Cathedral to record all the architectural and structural elements he wanted to incorporate into the show.
The projection system comprised 7 x PIGI 6KW machines with double rotating scrollers, positioned at various distances around the Cathedral – the longest throw distance was 150 metres and the shortest just 20 metres. This was carefully calculated to eliminate any shadowing from the plethora of trees dotted around the Cathedral Gardens – a primary creative and technical challenge of the project. @page_break@
The seven projectors – supplied by White Light – were in six different locations, fitted with five different types of lens, ranging from a 10cm wide angle lens to an 85 cm long throw lens. Images from each individual machine enveloped a separate zone of the Cathedral’s architecture in colourful, bold, detailed imagery.
The PIGI film scrolls were about 15 metres in length, for which the PIGI artwork assembled and pre-corrected for perspective and keystoning in Photoshop. The show was programmed into ETC’s PC-based OnlyCue controller and operated by Karen Monid. It featured some fabulously smooth movement dissolves, transitions and other subtleties for which the OnlyCue / PIGI combination is renowned. Monid is also an expert in optimising this control system.@page_break@
Projection Studio’s Steve Larkins dealt with all the project logistics, with Cy Doddimead and Michael Barry operating the projectors, which were all housed in custom weatherised hides for the duration.
This show ran eight times each night, helping to draw over 100,000 into the city to enjoy this and all the other works.