Artichoke, the UK’s leading producer of outdoor art, is dedicated to the transformative power of high-quality art accessible to all. Lumiere, the UK’s light art biennial and our flagship event, is commissioned by Durham Council. Now in its eighth edition, it reached new heights in 2023 by extending its programme beyond Durham city to spotlight the historic town of Bishop Auckland inviting internationally-renowned artists including Ai Weiwei, Chila Burman, Daniel Canogar, and Rafael Lozano-Hemmer to present monumental work over four nights.

Lumiere 2023 featured over 40 light art installations by artists from 15 countries, including seven UK debuts, and captured the imaginations of around 170,000 visitors.

What sets Lumiere apart from the myriad light shows and festivals that now take place across the country, is the curatorial direction, technical ambition and high production values that put artists and their vision at its heart. Presenting light art in all its forms, from projection mapping, neons and light sculptures to immersive experiences and intereactive works, the technological achievements of Lumiere are unparalleled, while visitors experience the magical nocturnal transformation of a city that will stay in their imagination forever.

Highlights included Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s Pulse Topology, an undulating canopy of 4,500 pulsating lightbulbs that connected participants through their recorded heartbeats. Ai Weiwei’s Illuminated Bottle Rack made its UK debut, a four-metre high structure displaying 61 antique and vintage chandeliers that together encapsulate the essence of the bourgeois existence and domestic life during the late 19th and early 20th century.

New commissions included Inner Cloister by Adam Frelin, paid homage to the largest Cathedral in England. Frelin created an elusive and ethereal inner cloister that mirrored the physical one to emulate the passage of monks of old who would have walked around the corridors. Liquid Geometry by Javier Riera was a series of three-dimensional projections that magically transformed the famous architecture of Durham’s UNESCO World Heritage Site into an immersive display of mind-bending and meditative geometric shapes. Amalgama Spanish Gallery by Daniel Canogar, transformed artworks, including those by El Greco, Murillo and Velázquez, into a projection which melted across the exterior of the town’s Spanish Gallery building.

A British collective of designers, architects, technicians and poets, Architecture Social Club uses architectural light and sound to create a space of escapism and joy. Parallels is the latest of these experiments, inspired by the dynamic movements and tones taken from out natural environments. Accompanied by a sound system created by Max Cooper, thousands of laser-beams enveloped spectators in animated volumes of light.

Artichoke’s commitment to community engagement and learning programmes associated with Lumeire was evident, involving hundreds of local participants in the creation of various installations. Lumiere was not just a visual space, it was a collaborative celebration, bringing diverse voices together in the creation of art that resonated with the community. On Blank Pages by Spanish anonymous collective Luzinterruptus proved particularly popular. The interactive artwork was made up of thousands of illuminated booklets invited visitors to share their thoughts about justice. Each night thousands added to the existing15,000 pages featuring contributions from prisoners, refugees, young offenders and victims and those working in the justice system. All contributions have been scanned and added to the digital archive.

Behind the scenes, Artichoke collaborated with service partners including QED Productions, Impact Production Services, and Unusual Productions, to deliver the Lumiere light art biennial to the exacting standards and high production values it has become renowned for over the years.

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