Record numbers as final night sees tens of thousands flood into the city
First estimates put the number of visitors at around 200,000 attending the festival over four nights.
The festival is produced by Artichoke and commissioned by Durham County Council with additional support from Arts Council England and a raft of sponsors.
Once again, the city became a new and temporary community of international artists, local people, arts professionals and visitors, all united by a mutual interest in art and a hunger for a transformative collective experience.
Lumiere delivered all this and more.
Audiences braved the elements to see twenty-nine extraordinary art installations spread across Durham’s city centre, including a whale in the River Wear, a ghostly fog beneath the Cathedral, and 250 locals storming the 50 metre-high arches of Durham Viaduct, in Asalto Durham, a projected artwork by Spanish artist Daniel Canogar.
On Saturday, Lumiere’s organisers paid tribute to the victims of the Paris attacks, lighting up Durham Cathedral in Tricoleur colours in-between shows of The World Machine.
The new son et lumiere by Ross Ashton, John Del’Nero and Isobel Waller-Bridge, drew on ideas about the birth of the cosmos with images from the medieval period through to the latest simulations of deep space, courtesy of Durham University’s Professor Carlos Frenk.
Inside the Cathedral, visitors were mesmerised by Miguel Chevalier’s Complex Meshes dancing on the ceiling of the Central Nave, and the accompanying score by Italian musician Jacopo Baboni Schilingi.
Mick Stephenson’s replica of the Cathedral’s Rose Window made from recycled plastic bottles for the Litre of Light charity campaign, delighted audiences in the Cathedral Cloister, as did TILT’s tropical Garden of Light in the Cathedral College and along South Bailey and Prebends Bridge.
Mysticète, Catherine Garret’s extraordinary 3D whale in the river, was a firm festival favourite, eliciting audible gasps and rounds of applause at the end of each show.
Fujiko Nakaya’s eerie Fogscape #03238 Durham was another festival hit, transfixing audiences on the riverbank as they watched its endlessly mutable form interacting with the wind.
On Framwellgate Waterside crowds gathered to play with Cloud, a suitably topical raincloud made up of thousands of bulbs, and 1.26 Durham, the floating aerial sculpture that changed colour according to audience responses to questions on the web App powered by Atom.
Others took shelter at Electric Fireside, an anarchic storytelling show by The Brick Box, involving groups from across County Durham.
Durham residents were also stars of the show in two very special productions.
Home Sweet Home featured a single terraced house morphing into different buildings as individuals spoke revealingly about the place they called home.
For Precious, Sixth Form Centre students worked with New Zealand artists Storybox on a multiscreen projected artwork in which people described the things they most treasured in their lives.
Other festival hits included Cleary Connolly’s Change Your Stripes, Supercube by Phillip Morvan in the Prince Bishop’s Shopping Centre, and The Red House, Patrice Warrener’s luminous transformation of Durham’s Old Shire Hall.
Helen Marriage, Director of Artichoke said:
“I’m thrilled with the response to this year’s programme. Judging from the reaction of the public on the streets and on social media, people have loved it, and the rain did nothing to dampen spirits.
“I’ve been told of overheard conversations between people deeply engaged in debating art and its extraordinary power to make you think and feel differently. This is why we do the things we do and I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to know that we have succeeded.
“It was such a shame to have had to cancel Mysticète on the final night because of the weather, but I’m glad we managed to get through with just one cancellation.
“All my thanks to the excellent teams working behind the scenes, to Durham County Council and the volunteer Festival Makers, and to all of our sponsors for making this wonderful event happen”.
Leader of Durham County Council, Cllr Simon Henig, said :
“Lumiere and Durham have become synonymous – a breath-taking mix of art, science and entertainment – 2015 has been more spectacular than ever.
“We have seen partners, businesses, residents, visitors and volunteers celebrate together what is possible when light and art collide.
“Thank you to everyone for making Lumiere another huge success and for ignoring the elements. Thank you Artichoke for a truly amazing and inspiring festival, we are immensely proud to be the birth place of Lumiere.”