Tracey Emin, Martin Creed and French fire alchemists star in Durham's Lumiere Festival 2011

By Culture24 Reporter | 15 November 2011
A photo of a sign saying the future will be confusing
© Tim Etchells
Festival: Lumiere Festival, various venues, Durham, November 17-20 2011

Cathedral, countryside, churches and all, Durham is a fantastic place to see even in the midst of a Wearside winter.

Lumiere enjoys dealing in flaming lanterns and blazing apparitions to dazzle even the purest of pyromaniacs.

So you'd be forgiven for thinking that the artists commissioned to take part in this annual labyrinth of luminosity might not matter in the scheme of one of the UK’s most eye-catching fusions of festivity and creation.

A look at the line-up, though, proves that theory to be a bit silly.

For starters, Tracey Emin puts a neon in an abandoned churchyard (Be Faithful to your Dreams is the message), Martin Creed's Everything is Going to be Alright shines at the Old Shire Hall and Frenchman Jacques Rival (also seen floating giant birdcages above King's Cross) turns Market Square into a snow dome inspired by the Marquess of Londonderry.

He's not the only cross-channel visitor – Claire Fontaine, a collective driven to highlight inequality and injustice, have made Capitalism Kills (Love) at Durham Miner's Hall, and Cedric Le Borgne brings his illuminated sculptures over here for the first time, leading visitors through the South Bailey, a kind of peninsula route shaped by cobbled roads and age-old buildings.

Invention is at play everywhere, from David Batchelor's reformation of industrial debris into sculptural installations (Pimp Pallets on Saddler Street) to River of Light, a procession between County Durham and Palace Green formed by hundreds of lanterns made by young people under the guidance of the Liverpool Lantern Company.

This all comes before you've even got to the cathedral, where Compagnie Carabosse – a bunch of fire alchemists from, you've guessed it, France – have made spirit, a journey through the holy building lit by candles, lanterns, lighted threads and beacons, with a giant lighted sphere hanging in the centre.

Lanterns made from vests traditionally worn by miners lead the way back down the Nave and into a garden dotted with flamepots, boilers and other burning desires.

And on the Northside of the cathedral, Ross Ashton's Crown of Light turns the structure into a vast animated canvas, flashing up pages from the Lindisfarne Gospels and images of ancient artefacts held within the walls.

Elsewhere, Canadian landscape artist Peter Lewis and Morecambe-based engineers Water Sculptures have combined for Splash, an illuminated curtain of water falling continuously from the Kingsgate Footbridge, which links the university with the cathedral above the River Wear.

"After months of research and decision-making, it is a wonderful feeling to be sharing the news of the line-up of absolutely extraordinary artists that we will be working with for this year's festival," says programmer Helen Marriage, of festival producers Artichoke.

"From the simplest intervention to the most startling and spectacular works, each piece will make a lasting mark on this beautiful city, and on each and every one of us."

More pictures from Lumiere:

A photo of a woman looking upwards at a light installation of spiralling neon wires
Daan Roosegaarde, Liquid Space (2009)© Daan Roosegaarde
A photo of a light illumination appearing to show a white figure falling through a building
Cedric Le Borgne, Les Voyageurs (2006)© JF Le Borgne
A photo of a giant circular lantern ablaze with tiny buckets of fire on grassland in a park as people look on
Compagnie Carabosse© Matthew Andrews
A photo of rows of neon lights in a city market place
Hartmann Grid© Leonardo Meigas
A photo of trees and plants illuminated by neon lights on a country house estate
The Walled Garden, Ballyscullion Park© Walter Holt
A photo of a city underpass lit up by blocks of glimmering neon light
LAb[au], Binary Waves © LAb[au]
More on the venues and organisations we've mentioned:
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