Above: In Our Hearts Blind Hope, Palma Studio, 2021. Rendering courtesy of the artist. 

Lumiere, the UK’s light festival, has announced its blazing new programme. The full programme of 37 international artworks has been revealed following the announcement that County Durham’s has made it onto the longlist for UK City of Culture 2025. Created by Artichoke, the UK’s leading producers of art in the public realm, and commissioned by Durham County Council with additional support from Arts Council England and a host of additional funders and supporters including Durham University, Lumiere runs from Thursday 18th – Sunday 21st November 2021.

Artichoke is marking the return to live events by presenting its most ambitious and far-reaching edition of Lumiere yet, with a programme that extends beyond the city into the wider county for the first time ever. An exciting series of new initiatives and collaborations bring an extraordinary new dimension to this ground-breaking festival. The turbulence of the past 18 months is addressed in several works, from memorial to optimistic opening, while the overarching issue of climate change and its environmental impact are huge influences on Lumiere artists this year. The programme also addresses urgent questions of inclusivity and diversity, through the range of artists represented and the work they have made. Lumiere 2021, will reimagine the historic contours of county and city, politics and society, through dramatic installations, spellbinding projections and quiet and poignant works, showcasing the infinite possibilities of light art in all its forms.

For Marks in the Landscape, complementing Lumiere’s existing county-wide community programme, six international light artists were invited to respond to previous interventions in the landscape made by humans across County Durham. Funded by the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund awarded to Durham County Council and spanning almost 500 years from a medieval priory to an iconic brutalist pavilion, these new works offer a different take on familiar landmarks brought to life in unexpected ways.

Medieval meets modern in Javier Riera’s Castle of Light, a series of 3-dimensional abstract projections that magically transform the lakeside façade of Durham’s famous 14th-century fortress, Raby Castle. Finnish artist Kari Kola brings his experience of lighting world heritage sites such as Stonehenge to Finchale Priory with Solitude, a new site-specific commission, which will be accompanied by a soundscape composed by Sylvain Moreau. Elaine Buckholtz and Ian Winters’ A Telling of Light will transform Penshaw Monument, an iconic North East, into a beautiful and haunting COVID-19 memorial made up of projections of a single illuminated breath.

Above: Savage Beauty, Kari Kola, 2020, Galway 2020, Image Courtesy of the Artist.

Occupying a prominent position in Seaham Marina is GO WITH THE FLOW / SWIM AGAINST THE TIDE, a large-scale LED text sculpture by Tim Etchells, pairing two well-known phrases, which seem to contradict each other, hinting at the social struggles of compliance and resistance. An energising beacon of luminous colour will radiate across Ushaw Historic House and Gardens in Liz West’s Hymn to the Big Wheel, creating an intriguing and immersive interplay of coloured shadows. Finally, Apollo 50 by Berlin-based artists, Mader Wiermann, which was first shown in Peterlee to mark the 50th anniversary of the iconic brutalist Apollo Pavilion, returns for Lumiere 2021, transforming the concrete structure with a mesmerising light sequence.

Inspired by the Mexican Day of the Dead holiday, Palma Studio will transform the façade of Durham Cathedral into an immersive reflection on the present moment, the darkness and loss we have endured as well as the glimmering return of Lumiere as a moment of collective hope with In Our Hearts Blind Hope.

CHRONOS by Epsztein & Gross is a video-mapped projection and soundscape that takes the viewer on an audio-visual voyage through time from the Belle Epoque and the Industrial Revolution, through to the present day.

Jim Campbell’s renowned Scattered Light incorporates almost 2,000 LED bulbs which will flicker to create the illusion of figures moving across St Mary’s College terrace. Groupe LAPS brings an LED rock’n’roll band to Durham’s historic Market Place with an all-night performance by The Froggs. Luminous light pours into a dark tunnel through corrugated coloured panels with Liz West’s Drop Scene, creating mesmerising and kaleidoscopic visuals.

Lumiere is open each night between 16:30 and 23:00. (County programme 16:30 to 22:00). The festival is completely free to attend and 29 of the 39 installations are accessible without a ticket at all times. In a change from previous years, the controlled City centre area of Lumiere will be ticketed for the entirety of the festival opening times every night. This is to manage audience numbers as part of measures in place to offer a COVID secure experience.

All tickets will be available online at lumiere-festival.com.

November 2023 issue

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