Lumiere returns to Durham this week, illuminating the city and for the first time, locations across the county too! From Thursday 18 to Sunday 21 November you can attend the UK’s leading light festival which will showcase the heritage and culture of the local area.
Between 4:30pm and 11pm each evening, artworks will be visible in four zones across the city. Tickets are required for the ‘pink zone’ in the centre of Durham and there’s a very limited number of these left for the later time slots if you’ve not already booked! However, any installations outside this zone aren’t ticketed, so you’re free to roam around.
I attended the Lumiere preview where I had the delight of viewing some of the city artworks and a couple of the wider county pieces too. I’m due to head along to Lumiere again later in the week, so will update this post with more photos following that visit – so if you’re unable to make it this time, keep an eye on here and across instagram where I’ll share some highlights too.
Durham City Pink Zone
(30) Two for Joy
Erin McDougle, UK
Based on the nursery rhyme traditionally said when seeing magpies, ‘one for sorrow, two for joy’. After spending the last year of going for long walks, McDougle created this piece with the magpie pair to bring joy during a dark time. Spot them up Saddler Street – there’s more than one pair, so look up as you’re walking towards Durham Cathedral.
(31) In Our Hearts Blind Hope
Palma Studio, UK
Inspired by Dia de los Muertos (Mexican Day of the Dead) this immersive projection is packed with colour and takes you on a real journey of reflection. It’s a heartwarming display to watch and the stunning soundtrack comes from Durham University orchestra. It runs on a 12 minute loop and I’d recommend watching the entire piece.
During the day you can visit Durham Cathedral where you’ll find two installations.
This one below, which took me some time to decipher. Read vertically.
The second one by Youki Hirakawa from Japan is a particularly poetic piece about the concept of time. Watch as a flickering candle burns and perhaps take a moment.
(32) City of Light, City of Stories
The Lantern Company, community groups from County Durham
College Green has been transformed into a mini city with glowing lanterns designed by local community groups. The soundtrack comes from local people too. I guarantee this one will make you smile, listening to people sharing their stories and thoughts.
(27) The Froggs
Groupe LAPS, France
These LED figures have visited Lumiere before (back in 2013 actually) but this time they’re back in the form of a band, taking over Market Place.
(33) Plastica Botanica
Plastic Shed and community groups in County Durham
Household plastic reimagined into floral shapes hanging above South Bailey. This piece was created by 11 community groups in the county.
Epsztein & Gross, France
This piece can be found up at Durham University and while it may be a bit of a walk out of the main city centre, I’d encourage you to make the time to see this one. Projected onto The Ogden Centre for Fundamental Physics, this takes you on a journey through time with a science focus. It’s fascinating to watch and features some of the sights from the night sky – so I’d even go as far to put this one of my top Lumiere sights!
(26) Scattered Light
Jim Campbell, USA
St Mary’s College, Durham University is host to almost 1600 LEDs which give a sense of depth as they flicker and sway gently in the evening breeze.
(12) Drop Scene
Liz West, UK
There’s two pieces by Liz West in Lumiere 2021. One at Ushaw House and this one underneath Milburngate Bridge. Both installations are colourful and play with shadows and refracting light.
The iconic desk lamp, but oversized along the riverside. This was a fun installation as you can walk between the lamps and sit by them too. I struggled to really capture the colours as well on camera unfortunately.
Two others in this zone, which I missed as they were up on The Riverwalk are Colour By Light and Invisible Hearts. If you’re headed along, take the steps up to The Riverwalk and see these, they look quite colourful and fun.
(15) Light Benches
Bernd Spieker for LBO, Germany
This was first seen at Berlin’s Festival of Light in 2011 and the Light Benches in Durham have been a permanent fixture since Lumiere 2015 – I think if you go through the archives I even have a blog post from then! Good place to pause with a hot drink too – you’ll notice that lots of cafes are open later for you to grab a hot chocolate, cappuccino, or mulled wine for your wander round Lumiere.
Durham County Marks in the Landscape
Ushaw House (06) Hymn to the Big Wheel
Liz West, UK
This colourful beacon radiates across the space in front of Ushaw House. As you move around and through the central sundial structure watch how the colours change and mix together and shadows fall across the ground.
Finchale Priory (04) Solitude
Kari Kola, Finland
Finchale Priory previously was used as a summer retreat for the monks of Durham Cathedral. Now the ruins of the priory are a great place for a walk and host to one of the county artworks this Lumiere. Kola brings his experience of lighting world heritage sites and this commission is inspired by the life of St Godric. It’s haunting and atmospheric; and particularly special under the full moon.
If you’d like to visit Finchale Priory during Lumiere you need to book minibus tickets which will run from New College Durham to the site and back. These are free, but limited.
Penshaw Monument (05) A Telling of Light
Elaine Buckholtz & Ian Winters, US/UK
This piece projected onto the iconic Penshaw Monument is a memorial to those who lost their lives to Covid in the UK during the pandemic. Expect abstract landscapes and colours moving across the monument.
Find out more about Lumiere on the website. Have you visited Lumiere previously? Or are you planning to get along this week?