Lumiere, the UK’s largest light festival, allows us to see Durham in a whole new light, illuminating its past and highlighting its creative future. The biennial festival transforms our historic city into an awe-inspiring nocturnal art trail and is set to be one of the highlights of Durham's 2019 events calendar, when it returns from November 14-17 for its tenth anniversary.
Milburngate's joint venture partner, Arlington Real Estate, is a long-time supporter and sponsor of the festival, with our £150m development on the banks of the River Wear hosting a number of installations in previous years. Managing director Allan Cook says: “I was hooked on the concept of Lumiere within five minutes of hearing about it. Working with culture in the community in this way helped to put my business on the map while also giving something back to my home patch.”
Commissioned by Durham County Council, Lumiere is produced by leading arts charity Artichoke and is the brainchild of their visionary director Helen Marriage. “It’s an art event using all forms of light, from flame to modern video projection,” she says. “We commission the art for each individual space, offering a reflection of its social history.” Lumiere strives to leave a permanent mark on the North East through a series of permanent light installations, a year-round community engagement programme and the BRILLIANT commissioning scheme, which allows local people to turn their brightest ideas into artworks for the festival.
Artichoke works with artists to create large-scale arts events in public spaces, aimed at appealing to the widest audiences possible, challenging our perceptions and changing the way we think about our surroundings.achieve, for both the people it’s designed for, as well as the environment in which it sits.
Milburngate is no exception, where our vision for a brand new destination in Durham’s glorious city centre is being brought to life by internationally renowned architects FaulknerBrowns.
With a need to respond to the working and lifestyle needs of today’s and future generations, Milburngate is being designed to the very highest standards, in a way that will complement and enhance its World Heritage setting on the banks of the River Wear.One such example is the Litre of Light, created by Sunderland builder-turned-artist Mick Stephenson.
Inspired by the stained glass Rose Window at Durham Cathedral, the installation has wowed visitors, and helped the festival to raise the county’s cultural capital and business profile in the process. “Light has a universal appeal,” says Stephenson. “I’ve been fascinated by light since I saw the sparkle of the family Christmas tree as a child.”
Final plans for the ten-year anniversary showcase are still under wraps, however, it’s known that it will intersperse much-loved installations from previous Lumiere festivals with new work. “I’m especially looking forward to seeing my ‘director’s cut’ from previous festivals,” says Marriage. The success of Lumiere underlines how business and culture have collaborated to raise the region’s profile on the international stage.
While using light to turn the city itself into a giant canvas is a modern concept, artists have long been inspired by Durham. The view across Millhouse weir towards Durham Cathedral moved both JMW Turner and Sir Walter Scott, the former capturing the light in watercolour, the latter turning to poetry.
More recently, the author Bill Bryson, a former chancellor of Durham University, famously described Durham Cathedral, the majestic centrepiece of the city’s Unesco World Heritage site, as “the best cathedral on planet Earth and one of the supreme achievements of the architectural world”. Today, this wealth of history is set in a proudly 21st-century context, with modern art installations subtly juxtaposed with heritage buildings.
You can find out more about Lumiere here.