Durham Lumiere 2017

So, this week, back to Durham and back to work. (I have been out and about recently: on Ionain Northumberland and enjoying Wensleydale.) However, this last weekend was a special one in Durham, for the fifth Lumiere light festival took place here from Thursday to Sunday. The Festival takes place every two years – I wrote about the 2015 one here.

This is a true example of art for everyone. It is estimated that 240,000 people attended over the four days and since the majority of the 28 artworks were out on the streets, the pieces can be enjoyed by everyone.  Many thousands of people were out on the night we visited, but the event is extremely well guided and policed, so there were few bottle-necks and it felt safe at all times – no mean achievement by the organisers. Several exhibits were interactive, inviting people to participate in the alteration of the work by various means (dancing, playing chiming bars, sending a tweet, for example).

The centre of Durham is quite dark at night normally; the intention is that light pollution should not mar the view of the illuminated cathedral and castle at night. So to see this ‘interrupted’ by interesting artworks is exciting.

The preparations are considerable. This is a structure which was going up in Durham marketplace in the middle of last week.

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Completed and illuminated, it looked like this.

Dome and Arches by Luminarie de Cagna
Dome and Arches by Luminarie de Cagna

Within, it was like this.

dsc_03401-e1511213096489.jpgThe colours were bright blue, yellow, red and green with diamond-like white lights. Repeating patterns and motifs like this are always going to appeal to a quilter like myself.  Another installation created a changing texture on the road in a way that made it look like a patterned textile; it wouldn’t have looked too out of place in a modern quilt show.

'Colour by Light' by Floating Pictures, Durham Lumiere 2017
‘Colour by Light’ by Floating Pictures

Spotted close to this one was another textile-y piece consisting of a series of lit-up coloured umbrellas, carried quickly through the streets by volunteers. I loved it, though it sadly proved too difficult for me to photograph effectively.  The whole of the front of the Miner’s Hall was lit up with a dramatic display by Shared Space & Light, entitled ‘The Common Good’, which celebrated the contribution to society made by Durham’s public service sector workers, including teachers.

A different  large-scale projection celebrating research into the cosmos appeared on the side of the Ogden building (or rather the Ogden Centre for Fundamental Physics, a modern building designed by architect Daniel Libeskind).  Specially composed music accompanied the light show.

'Cosmic Architecture' by Nina Dunn and John del Nero
‘Cosmic Architecture’ by Nina Dunn and John del Nero

 

Another artwork mixed sound and colour on a smaller scale. Harmonic notes issued from  hoop-like frames installed on the walls of St Godric’s church, while light both inside and outside the frames changed gradually from one colour to another. There were five like the one below, changing colour and sound at different times to each other, while inside the building, church members were offering hot drinks to visitors.

'Harmonic Portal' by Chris Plant, Durham Lumiere 2017
‘Harmonic Portal’ by Chris Plant

Finally, an astonishing piece, installed inside St Oswald’s church: a building-sized mobile of coloured glass that glittered in its own right and  threw bright, translucent coloured shadows onto the stone walls; it was simply breath-taking. (A tree full of lights outside in the churchyard formed part of this artwork, too).

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This Lumiere was full of delights and I haven’t even mentioned the heron made of light tubes, or the tree full of ‘lampshades’ made from metal buckets, or even the lamps made of musical cymbals…