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Durham University

Durham University News


University attractions are big hit at Lumiere 2017

(23 November 2017)

Our Moon, Hannah Fox.

Lumiere has been declared as a resounding success with Durham University’s attractions and expertise playing a major part in the UK’s biggest light festival.

First estimates indicate that around 240,000 people visited the free festival during its four nights, from November 16 to 19, with many exploring University hosted or inspired installations including What Matters, Cosmic Architecture, and For The Birds.

Durham University is a major partner of Lumiere which is produced by Artichoke, the UK’s leading producers of art in the public realm, and commissioned by Durham County Council with additional support from Arts Council England and a host of further funders and supporters.

Since its inception in 2009, Lumiere has transformed Durham City into a nocturnal art gallery every two years. For the 2017 edition, 29 spectacular artworks and installations created an illuminated trail right across the city.

Light and sound

One of this year’s crowd favourites was For The Birds in Durham University’s Botanic Garden, an enchanting collection of more than 20 light and sound installations inspired by birdlife.

Supported by Wellcome, Cosmoscope was the culmination of two years of research by a team of artists and scientists, led by Simeon Nelson and including academics from Durham University’s Institute for Computational Cosmology. The full process involved 700 primary school pupils from 25 schools across the county who participated in workshops designed to get them thinking about science. The ambitious sound and light sculpture used over 12,000 LED lights and an impressive soundscape, to explore our place in the Universe.

Also responding to scientific questions in relation to the universe, Cosmic Architecturedelighted crowds at the University’s Ogden Centre for Fundamental Physics, eliciting rounds of applause after each show. Projected onto the building, the video-mapped sound and light work presented a mesmerising illustration of the marriage between the contemporary architecture and the expert level of scientific research that takes place on a daily basis inside the building.

Other attractions featuring University involvement included What Matters, at St Oswald’s Church, while Know Thyself saw History PhD student Finola Finnsuspend a beating red heart inside The Count’s House on Durham’s riverbanks, exploring ideas of the self.

Iconic landmarks

Many iconic Durham landmarks were amongst the sites transformed by art, including the city’s historic Cathedral which Spanish artist Pablo Valbuenaturned into a vast synchronised artwork of sound and light. English change-ringing, which dates back to the 17th Century, Methods live bell-ringing triggered lights in time to the sequence. Led by Durham Cathedral’s Bell Major, Christopher Crabtree, and Assistant Professor in the University’s Department of Engineering, 60 bell ringers from the North East and beyond performed live for six hours each night of the festival.

The beautiful Miners’ Hall at Redhills was also brought to life by an exciting 3-D video-mapped piece by Shared Space & Light, featuring real-life stories from the workers in the police, fire and health services.

This year’s programme had a strong international element once again, with artists from around the world, including the United States and Canada, Spain, Holland, Sweden, Finland, as well as the UK

Local people also participated throughout with British artist Hannah Foxvideo mapping the facial expressions of volunteers to create Our Moon, which watched over the City from the walls of Durham Castle, home to University College.

Fifty University staff worked on the festival, in addition to staff and student volunteers.

Wonderful success

Jane Robinson, Chief Operating Officer, Durham University, said: “Durham University is proud to have been involved in Lumiere since 2009. We are particularly pleased to have been a major supporter of this year’s festival in the areas of investment, research, education, staff time and expertise, and cultural activity.

Lumiere has once again proved to be a wonderful success attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors to the City, many of whom we were delighted to welcome to the University.”

Helen Marriage, CEO Artichoke, said:“I think this has been my favourite Lumiere festival so far. Part of the joy of programming this festival is thinking about ways to keep it fresh and new each time, and I think we really have achieved that.

“As always the support we have had from our commissioner, Durham County Council, has been exceptional, and the involvement of local people at every level, from participating in artworks to the 315 who volunteered as festival-makers has been exemplary. We couldn’t do this without the support of all our wonderful funders and sponsors, and I can’t say thank you enough to them for making Lumiere possible.”

Cllr Simon Henig, Leader of Durham County Council, said: “Lumiere has once again offered us the chance to showcase our beautiful city, our unique history and heritage and our wonderful people on a world stage.

“I am also delighted that, as always, the public have shown their huge affection for this event by turning out in the tens of thousands to enjoy the 29 artworks that have illuminated Durham City in new and exciting ways.”

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