Lumiere Durham 2019: Women prisoners help create new artwork for festival of light

Lumiere bosses have revealed an artwork created with the help of female prisoners in Durham could be left as a permanent addition to the city after the 2019 festival.

Monday, 19th August 2019, 4:50 pm
Updated Monday, 19th August 2019, 6:56 pm
Illumaphonium by Michael Davis on display during the Lumiere Durham light festival. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday November 15, 2017. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

Organisers of the event, due to return for its tenth anniversary edition in November, have promised it will be their ‘most ambitious ever’, with blasts from the past returning alongside new commissions.

And one of those will be an installation of neon lights on the side of Clayport Library, in Millennium Place, spelling out a slogan devised by inmates from HMP Low Newton.

Kate Harvey of Artichoke, the company behind Lumiere, said: “The result is a phrase which we want to make a permanent source of inspiration which says ‘only you can write the next page’.

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“The idea of this is it has come from people looking for hope in their life, but which can also act as a source of inspiration to people walking past.”

Hardy, who was speaking at a meeting of the City of Durham Parish Council, added the slogan and design had been developed at workshops held with prisoners and the poet Hannah Jane Walker.

Members of the parish council were also shown an image of what the finished design could look like, ahead of a formal planning application being submitted to Durham County Council.

Lumiere organisers said no images of the planned artwork will be released publicly ahead of the application’s submission or the announcement of the festival’s full programme, expected in October.

Members of the parish council’s planning committee were largely positive about the proposals.

But others were more sceptical of the chosen words in light of plans for a new county council HQ on the former site of the Sands car park.

“I don’t oppose it, I just think it is ironic at a time when we’re unable to write our next page,” said Coun Victoria Ashfield.

“We’ve fought a building imposed on us by the county council and we have been unable to prevent that.”

She added: “It may not chime with the people of Durham [City].”