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Lumiere Festival 2019 soaks Durham in immersive light-based installations

The UK’s largest light festival features 37 light-based works in outdoor settings of Durham, from November 14 to 17, 2019.

by Sukanya Garg Nov 14, 2019

The UK’s largest light festival, Lumiere Durham, is celebrating its 10th anniversary programme from November 14-17, 2019. Organised by Artichoke, one of the country’s leading creative companies that is funded by the Arts Council England, the festival features 37 light-based works in outdoor settings by artists from the UK, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and other countries. The event also features some of the favourite artworks from the previous editions of Lumiere along with new commissions.

End over End, Lucy McDonnell; new to Lumiere Durham 2019, produced by Artichoke | Lumiere Durham 2019 | Lucy McDonnell | STIRworld
End over End, Lucy McDonnell; new to Lumiere Durham 2019, produced by Artichoke Image Credit: Lucy McDonnell

For the four nights that the festival is on display, visitors can navigate the festival’s numerous dramatic installations, dynamic projections, reflective and interactive works using a Lumiere app.

For the Birds, Jonny Easterby, collective of artists. Lumiere Durham 2017, produced by Artichoke | Lumiere Durham 2019 | STIRworld
For the Birds, Jonny Easterby, collective of artists; Lumiere Durham 2017, produced by Artichoke Image Credit: Matthew Andrews

Geometrical Traces by Javier Riera (Spain) illuminates the city’s riverside tree canopies in a mesmerising new work that draws upon mathematical patterns found in nature. Squidsoup’s (UK) 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.

Neon Dogs, Deepa Mann Kler; new to Lumiere Durham 2019, produced by Artichoke | Lumiere Durham 2019| Deepa Mann Kler | STIRworld
Neon Dogs, Deepa Mann Kler; new to Lumiere Durham 2019, produced by Artichoke Image Credit: Chris Hill

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.

CLOUD, Caitlind r.c. Brown & Wayne Garrett; Lumiere Durham 2015, produced by Artichoke | Lumiere Durham 2019 | STIRworld
CLOUD, Caitlind r.c. Brown & Wayne Garrett; Lumiere Durham 2015, produced by Artichoke Image Credit: Matthew Andrews

The four inventive artworks from the winners of the BRILLIANT competition are also on display. 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 reminds everyone of childhood with this clever homage to the iconic slinky by Lucy McDonnell (UK).

The Stars come out at Night, Stellar Projects; new to Lumiere Durham 2019, produced by Artichoke | Lumiere Durham 2019| Stellar Projects | STIRworld
The Stars come out at Night, Stellar Projects; new to Lumiere Durham 2019, produced by Artichoke Image Credit: Graham Fotherby

Artichoke 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 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 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).

Harmonic Portal, Chris Plant; Lumiere Durham 2017, produced by Artichoke | Lumiere Durham 2019| Chris Plant | STIRworld
Harmonic Portal, Chris Plant; Lumiere Durham 2017, produced by Artichoke Image Credit: Matthew Andrews

Students are also participating in the festival. Those from the Durham Sixth Form Centre have collaborated with Ocubo (Portugal) and Storybox (New Zealand) on Are Atoms Alive?, a fascinating short film displayed across nine shipping containers. Also, young people from Parkside Academy in Willington and Tübingen in Germany have collaborated with school children worldwide to create the branches and flowers of Mick Stephenson’s (UK) Friendship Tree using recycled materials. The tree celebrates the spirit of collaboration and marks the 50th anniversary of Durham’s twinning with Tübingen.

I Love Durham, Jacques Rival; Lumiere Durham 2011, produced by Artichoke | Lumiere Durham 2019| Jacques Rival | STIRworld
I Love Durham, Jacques Rival; Lumiere Durham 2011, produced by Artichoke Image Credit: Matthew Andrews

The favourites from previous editions that have made a comeback include the giant glittering snow globe I Love Durham by Jacques Rival (France). In addition, the atmospheric sculpture Cloud, formed from 6,000 incandescent light bulbs by Caitland r.c. Brown & Wayne Garrett (Canada), will be a part of the festival among others.

In addition, there are three permanent installations at the festival that have become the artistic bedrock of the city of Durham. 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 with the unfolding wings of one of Britain’s most iconic birds.

Lumiere, which is completely free to attend, is open each night from 4:30pm to 11pm. A total of 26 of the 37 installations are accessible without a ticket at all times. However, as in all previous editions, a peak-time ticketing system is in operation for access into the central peninsula area between 4.30pm and 7.30pm each evening. Nevertheless, free peak-time tickets have been available since October 28, 2019. The festival, which started 10 years ago, with the idea to bring art out to the streets and public, has cast the city in a new light, both literally and figuratively. Durham, over the years has become known as the ‘Place of Light’, and the festival is a must-visit event of the year.

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About Author

Sukanya Garg

Sukanya Garg

Garg is an artist and writer with a Master's degree in Public Policy from Duke University, USA. She has been involved in research, planning and execution of gallery exhibitions and external projects in collaboration with curators. Her writing has been published in several art magazines, journals and as part of curatorial notes and catalogues, and her work has been showcased at multiple exhibitions.

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