The UK’s leading biennial light festival, produced by Artichoke and commissioned by Durham County Council, Lumiere 2021 explored new boundaries by expanding beyond Durham’s city limits into Durham County for the first time. Six major installations by light artists transformed county landmarks including Raby Castle, (Javier Riera, Spain); Penshaw Monument (Elaine Buckholtz & Ian Winters, US), Finchale Priory (Kari Kola, Finland), the Pasmore Pavilion (Mader Wiermann, Germany), Ushaw Historic House & Gardens (Liz West, UK) and Seaham Marina (Tim Etchells, UK).

This year’s festival featured more than 30 international and UK artists, with site-specific installations transforming public space and buildings with artworks all made using the medium of light. An audience of up to 140,000 over 4 nights explored the city and county locations to enjoy 37 artworks, from videomapped installations to standalone light sculptures, neons, projections, and interactive pieces.

New commissions included Castle of Light by Javier Rivera (Spain) which responded to Raby Castle’s unique architecture seeking out the hidden qualities and dimensions of the building’s fortress exterior in a series mesmerising geometric projections. A Telling of Light by Elaine Buckholtz & Ian Winters (US) was conceived as a memorial to commemorate the huge number of lives lost to Covid, projecting a mulitplicity of abstracted landscape scenes onto the Penshaw Monument, a Victorian folly on the Sunderland / County Durham Border. Finnish Artist Kari Kola brought his experience of lighting world heritage sites to Finchale Priory, the 12th-century outpost of Durham Cathedral and site of St Godric’s Hermitage. French artist duo, Epszstein & Gross presented Chronos, the compelling story of time from nano-seconds to millennia, a video-mapped projection onto the Liebskind-designed Ogden Centre for Fundamental Physics at Durham University. Palma Studio’s (UK) new commission In Our Hearts Blind Hope, was a 12 minute sequence of shape-shifting video-mapped projectsions inspired by the Mexican Day of the Dead, which transformed the facade of Durham Cathedral into an immersive reflection of the current moment.

The festival also featured the first collaboration with some of the UK’s major poets (Anthology: Into the LIght) as well as hosting its first dual online / physical artwork, Tree of Light (Tekja, UK) which enabled anyone to add their hopes for the future in real time from whereever they were in the world.

Produced against challenging pandemic odds, Lumiere remained true to its mission to enable the vision of artists and their ability to transform the everyday and reflect on past, present and future, as well its commitment to providing development opportunities for new artists and involving hundreds of local people the making of the projects through learning and participation programmes associated with several installations.

Artichoke is pleased to work with service partners including QED (Lighting & Projection), IPS (Technical Production), Unusual Services (Rigging), Public Image events and J-EMSS (event management), to deliver the Lumiere festival to the exacting standards and high production values it has become renowned for the world over.

Lumiere is produced by Artichoke and commissioned by Durham County Council, with additional support from Arts Council England, DCMS Recovery Fund, Durham University and a raft of funders and sponsors. Lumiere is instrumental to County Durham’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2025.


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