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Previewing Durham’s Lumiere public lighting art showcase

Durham to be transformed into glittering outdoor gallery as Artichoke announces Lumiere 10th anniversary programme

I LOVE DURHAM, Jacques Rival, LUMIERE 2011, produced by Artichoke in Durham. Photo Matthew Andrews

The full programme of 37 artworks for Lumiere 2019 has now been revealed. Created by Artichoke, a leading UK-based producer of art in the public realm, Lumiere runs from Thursday 14th – Sunday 17th November 2019. For the most ambitious edition of Lumiere yet, a selection of favourite artworks from previous festivals will sit alongside a host of new commissions by international artists and fresh talent from the North East.

Free to attend, the festival (now in its 10th year) will reimagine the city through dramatic installations, dynamic projections and reflective works, which showcase the diversity and creativity of light art. The festival is commissioned by Durham County Council, with additional support from Arts Council England, Durham University and a host of further funders and supporters.

Since the first edition, Lumiere has returned to the city every other year, as well as lighting up Derry~Londonderry in 2013, during its year as UK City of Culture, and London in 2016 and 2018. The festival has become an important part of Durham’s identity, so much so that it has become known as the ‘Place of Light’.

The 10th anniversary of Lumiere will transform Durham into a magical winter nightscape with extraordinary new artworks and commissions, including interactive installations where audiences manipulate or become part of the art. Stones by artist collective Tigrelab Art (Spain) is a shape-shifting video-mapped projection onto the facade of Durham Cathedral, that visitors can change using stone tablets. Inspired by the coloured tiles that characterise so many Portuguese cities, Human Tiles by Ocubo (Portugal) will transform the exterior of Gala Theatre & Cinema into a kaleidoscope of projected patterns created in response to the movements of visitors bodies in real-time. Tug at the rope that propels Amelia Kosminsky’s floating sculpture Celestial Brainstorm (UK) and sparkling neurons will be released into the night sky; make music by rotating Stellar Projects’ The Stars Come out at Night (UK); and fly up and down in a playground of illuminated see-saws by Wave-Field Variation H by CS Design, L4 Studio (Canada).

Picture: Geometrical Traces, provided by Javier Reira

Geometrical Traces by Javier Riera (Spain) will illuminate the city’s riverside tree canopies in a mesmerising new work that draws upon mathematical patterns found in nature. Deepa Mann-Kler (UK) brings her glowing balloon dog sculptures Neon Dogs previously seen at Lumiere London, as well as a new work similarly inspired by pop culture. Shoefiti draws upon the urban phenomenon of shoe tossing, with over 150 illuminated shoes strung along Durham’s streets in a playful nod to this mischievous practice. Squidsoup (UK)’s extraordinary immersive work Wave – featuring 500 orbs of light and 500 voices – comes to the festival direct from its first exhibition at Burning Man in the Nevada desert earlier this year.

The four inventive artworks from the winners of the BRILLIANT competition will also be revealed. Penelope Payne (UK) brings a slice of summer to wintry Durham with Blue Skies, her projection onto the underside of Milburngate Bridge. End over End will remind everyone of childhood with this clever homage to the iconic slinky by Lucy McDonnell (UK); Washed Up, is a series of glowing collages assembled from plastic reclaimed by Diane Watson (UK) from the beaches of the North East. A Different View by Mike Donaghy, provides a playful twist on the humble traffic light.

Artichoke have invited a range of community groups and individuals from across County Durham to take part in the creation of artworks for this year’s festival. Women residents at HMP Low Newton in Brasside have worked with poet Hannah Jane Walker (UK) to create The Next Page, a message for the future in neon displayed at Clayport Library. Meanwhile piano players of all ages will have the chance to see their music-making transformed into shape-shifting patterns on the facade of Rushford Court for Keys of Light by Mr.Beam (Netherlands).

Students from Durham Sixth Form Centre have collaborated with Ocubo (Portugal) & Storybox (New Zealand) on Are Atoms Alive? a short film displayed across nine shipping containers, whilst East Durham College students will reimagine the brutalist building Dunelm House with the new artwork Lift Off, a legacy piece from the Apollo 50 project in Peterlee earlier this year. Dan Shorten from Guildhall School of Music & Drama, who provided guidance for this project, is also bringing a Guildhall Live Events artwork – the immersive walkway Light Tunnel – to the festival.

Finally, young people from Parkside Academy in Willington and Tübingen in Germany have collaborated with schoolchildren worldwide to create the branches and flowers of Mick Stephenson (UK)’s Friendship Tree using recycled materials. The tree celebrates the spirit of collaboration and marks the 50th anniversary of Durham’s twinning with Tübingen.

Lumiere 2019 will see the return of many past favourites from throughout the festival’s history. Two artworks from the very first edition of the festival will be making a comeback – Echelle, the pink neon ladder by Ron Haselden (UK/France), will appear in its original location on Saddler Street, whilst Bottle Festoon will pop up across the city. Over 900 children and adults haven taken part in drop-in workshops to create these dazzling chandeliers made from recycled bottles.

The giant glittering snow globe I Love Durham by Jacques Rival (France) joins the atmospheric sculpture Cloud, formed from 6,000 incandescent light bulbs by Caitland r.c. Brown & Wayne Garrett (Canada). Fire alchemists Compagnie Carabosse (France) return to illuminate Durham Cathedral and its surrounding grounds with Spirit, whilst Newcastle based creative studio NOVAK (UK) will once again transform Durham Castle into a fairytale village with Fool’s Paradise. The River Wear will welcome back Fogscape #03238, the mysterious nocturnal fog sculpture by Fujiko Nakaya (Japan) and Simon Corder (UK), whilst the majestic Mysticète by Top’là Design/Catherine Garret (France) will resurface upstream near Pennyferry Bridge.

Lumiere will also feature the return of two of the festival’s outstanding site-specific works – Cosmic Architecture by Nina Dunn & John Del’ Nero (UK) projected onto Durham University’s Ogden Centre for Fundamental Physics and For the Birds, a collection of installations drawing visitors through the urban wilderness of Durham University’s Botanic Garden.

Five winning artworks from past editions of the BRILLIANT competition, launched in 2011 to support talent in the North East, are also included in the programme: Fusion by Mick Stephenson (UK); Sanctuary by Sarah Blood (UK); Big Knitting by Victoria MacLeod (UK); The Stars Beneath Our Feet by Louise Mackenzie (UK) and Harmonic Portal by Chris Plant (UK).

Installations on display for the duration of the festival join three permanent artworks which have already become part of the fabric of the city. Helvetictoc by Tobie Langel (Switzerland) has been telling the time in Millennium Place since 2013, while Lightbenches by Bernd Spiecker for LBO (Germany) has been encouraging passers-by to take the weight off their feet since 2015. Installed following Lumiere 2017, Heron by Jon Voss (France) continues to capture a fleeting moment in time – the unfolding wings of one of Britain’s most iconic birds.

Helen Marriage, director of Artichoke, said: “This year’s 10th anniversary edition offers the chance to relive some of the wonderful memories of previous festivals, sprinkled as always with an element of surprise. We hope visitors from across the county and beyond join us as we take to the cobbled streets of Durham for four nights of wintry magic.”

Cllr Simon Henig, Leader of Durham County Council, commented: “Over the decade in which it has run, Lumiere has provided a treasure chest of memories for hundreds of thousands of local residents and visitors. It is a world class event which has huge social and economic benefits for County Durham and the North East. This year’s programme is truly awe-inspiring and will once again showcase our county as a place of light, where heritage is cherished and innovation is embraced and encouraged.”

Professor Janet Stewart, executive dean (Arts and Humanities) at Durham University, added: “Lumiere is an inspiring event; it’s innovative, exciting and something that many, many people look forward to greatly. As Durham’s University, we’re proud to have been involved with Lumiere from the beginning and very pleased to be a major partner for Lumiere Durham 2019: sponsoring the festival, hosting new and returning installations and supporting across cultural engagement, volunteering and logistics.”