Artworks promise to bring in the spectacle of the sea to a city centre as the largest festival of its kind in the UK flicks back to the North East.
Durham will host the four-night Lumiere festival from Thursday, November 12, for the fourth time, staging 26 artworks around its streets, gardens and river.
Among them will be a wave of seaglass collected from the shores of East Durham, which will crash down Fowlers Yard, a colossal 3D whale which will rise and fall from the Wear and a piece shaped from fog which will billow from one side of the city’s cathedral.
The Norman structure, previously used in the backdrop for Crown of Light, one of the biggest draws of the evenings, will be used by the same team as they screen World Machine, the story of cosmology, from “the Dark Ages to Dark Matter.”
The festival has pumped an estimated £11million into the areas economy since the two-yearly event was launched in 2009, with the last in 2013 pulling in a crowd of 175,000.
Councillor Simon Henig, leader of Durham County Council which commissions Lumiere, said he was “extremely proud” of its success and promised it would be the “best Lumiere yet.”
Over four nights, people come along and reclaim the streets, young, old, locals and visitors, with smiles on their faces and they also take long-term memories which will remain,Councillor Simon Henig, leader of Durham County Council
“Over four nights, people come along and reclaim the streets, young, old, locals and visitors, with smiles on their faces and they also take long-term memories which will remain,” he added.
He said as Durham was “not necessarily built” with such a project in mind, a huge amount goes into the logistics of staging the celebration.
Artichoke, which puts together the Arts Council England-backed programme, said the £1.8million target set to run the event had been hit in recent weeks thanks to the backing of 76 sponsors.
Helen Marriage, Lumiere’s artistic director and boss of the cultural company, explained how “enormously complicated” it was to bring in the artworks to Durham’s historic streets, but said the organisation took great joy in transforming it in ways they had never been seen before.
She added: “This has a special place in my heart, but I think it also has a special place in the hear of Durham and the North East.
“We are really proud and take delight in it.”
Other artworks will see Durham University’s former HQ in Old Elvet, destined to be developed into a hotel, lit up as The Red House, a tale of Durham’s myths and legends projected on to the side of its castle, and Durham Sixth Form premier a work based on shipping containers, which has involved them working with a team of artists in New Zealand via Skype.
Some pieces will be interactive, from Incandescent, a cloud of light bulbs which can be turned on and off by visitors, Change Your Stripes, a lines of light which can be manipulated by viewers to a piece based on game theory, which will “bend and warp” depending on the crowd’s movement.
Another piece will bring together 75,000 LED lights to decorate the Prince Bishop’s shopping centre and Market Place, while Garden of Light will transform an area of land near the cathedral and two of the city’s colleges.
Four works created as part of the Brilliant strand of the festival will give North East artists the chance to put their own stamp on the shows.
They include Rainbow River by GCSE science tutor Richard Hornby, 29, from Durham, work with Chester-le-Street’s Alison Lowery, a graduate of Sunderland University’s glasswork masters course, as they use a 3metre high prism to refract light across the River Wear.
Richard said: “It came as a shock for us to be even shortlisted, let alone get through to the final.
“It’s a mixture of excitement and nerves for us.”
Details about access to the festival, times and road closures are expected to be announced early next month.
A full list of the artworks and more details can be found via www.lumiere-festival.com.