Lumiere artist will create ship-building spectacular at Sunderland Illuminations

Forget ship in a bottle - a giant ship made out of bottles will help light up this year's Sunderland Illuminations.

Friday, 26th August 2016, 12:06 pm
Updated Friday, 26th August 2016, 1:09 pm
Mick's creation at Lumiere

Artist Mick Stephenson, whose work has featured in Durham’s Lumiere Festival, has been commissioned by Sunderland City Council in partnership with the Cultural Spring to produce the ship, which will be anchored in the Rose Garden of Roker Park for the duration of the annual attraction.

Around 15,000 plastic bottles will be used in the light art work which will be available to view when the switch is flicked for this year’s Illuminations on Friday, September 23.

Mick Stephenson with Emma Horsman from Cultural Spring

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County Durham-based Mick has a national reputation as a light artist and last year replicated Durham Cathedral’s beautiful Rose Window with thousands of recycled plastic bottles for Lumiere.

Mick, who attended Sunderland Art College, said: “I was at the Cultural Spring’s SteamCo event and got talking to the team and they asked if I’d be interested in a commission for the Illuminations. I jumped at the chance and thought a Ship of Light would be perfect – it’s a tribute to Sunderland’s proud shipbuilding and glass making past, but the city is also becoming known as a city of light.

“What I want to do is celebrate the beautiful ships that the Wear produced. The Sunderland yards were inventive and creative, particularly before ships were made from steel, and some of the vessels were simply stunning.

“Funnily enough when I was doing some research, I came across a famous lightship – basically a floating lighthouse – that was built in Sunderland. That lightship, called L72, played a key part in D-Day.”

Mick Stephenson with Emma Horsman from Cultural Spring

The upturned Ship of Light will be made of more than 15,000 2-litre plastic bottles and the structure will be big enough for people to walk through.

“I’ve been working in schools to get local pupils to decorate bottles they’ve brought in and we’ve had some great designs. I’d like to thank Sunderland drinks company CBL who’ve helped me out again in providing plastic bottles,” added Mick.

The structure will be lit by spotlights positioned at 90 degrees to the artwork and Mick will also create another structure, spelling out the word Light, at one end of the ship.

This second structure will also be made from more than 250 traditional hand-held hurricane lamps.

Once the Illuminations is over the bottles will be donated to the Lite of Light project, which uses plastic bottles to bring lighting to homes in the Developing World.

•Sunderland Illuminations will take place in Roker Park and along Roker and Seaburn seafront from Friday, September 23 to November 5. Mick will be hosting on-site workshops at the Ship of Light, from 10am until tt starting on Saturday, September 17.