I’m writing this at the end of November when the days are short and dark. However, this post is all about light.
Just over a week ago, I took part in a ‘Festival of Creativity’ organised by Jane Shaw of Durham Create, which took place at Ushaw College (which is situated quite near to where I live in County Durham). Ushaw College comprises a beautiful set of buildings with a long and interesting history. It used to be a seminary where priests were trained for ministry in the Catholic church. This is no longer its function and these days Ushaw College is used for a variety of purposes and events.
A variety of creative practitioners were leading sessions at the Festival and I was excited to be able to go and listen to Mick Stephenson’s story. A year ago I wrote about Mick’s breathtaking rose-window sculpture, made up of light-filled plastic bottles, which was placed in the cathedral cloisters for Lumiere, Durham’s light festival, in 2015.
You can read the post here.
Mick told the story of responding to a call-out from Artichoke, who run the festival, to make a piece for the 2011 Lumiere. The sculpture he made that year (which was very large) was made whilst he was working at a full-time job; he worked at night and got up early to do more on his art-work. He recounted a touching anecdote: when he went to take the piece down at the end of the festival, a lady looking at it said ‘It’s the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.’
Mick is now a full-time artist and has made works for ‘Kendal calling’, Staithes Festival and ‘The Freedom Festival, Hull. He has also taken the ‘Rose window’ to other locations and has appeared on the television programme ‘Made in Britain’.
Mick also led one of the interactive sessions of the ‘Festival of Creativity’. He had brought 6,000 glow-sticks with him and we used these to decorate the chapel at Ushaw. This photograph gives some idea of what the chapel looked like when we started.
Here are some of the glow-sticks being laid on the floor.
I wanted to do a small piece with blue and pink…
…and also to try lettering.
This is the finished light installation, photographed from the gallery above the chapel.