Are you ready for a little evening stroll? I can’t promise you moonlight, but I think you will still enjoy the sights we’re going to see. I’m taking you to the historic city of Durham, where Lumiere 2015 has been lighting the streets with enchantment. This is the 4th event of its kind to take place here, and it attracts an international crowd.
I have my map in hand, and I’m starting off with light installation no. 1, but I may well deviate from the route shown in the programme. There are so many distractions! I’m on Framwellgate Waterside, beside the River Wear, which winds through the centre of the city. Cloud, the work of a Canadian pair, is an interactive sculpture built from 6000 light bulbs. Tugging on one of the dangling switches turns them on and off. Rapt faces glow with pleasure as they look upwards and smile.
Behind me, flying the flag for the USA and swirling in the breeze like a merry kite, 1.26 Durham, installation no.2, is vying for my attention. Such was the strength of the 2010 Chilean earthquake’s vibrations that it momentarily sped up the earth’s rotation and shortened the day by 1.26 microseconds. Data sourced from NASA was used to turn this phenomenon into a 3D image, the basis for this sculpture. Strong but delicate, it asks us to consider the interconnectedness of our world. A specially designed app was created by a local company to enable you to change the light projected. How amazing is that? Far beyond me, I’m afraid.
It billowed about gleefully and I scarcely noticed the rain that was beginning to fall. Not a good time for sitting on benches, but no. 4 in the programme, a German installation called Lightbench offered one in lilac and one in electric green.
Where is no. 3 you might be asking? Over Milburngate Bridge and dangling on the side of a building, Big Knitting is a UK entry for which drain pipes had to be utilised as jumbo knitting needles. Ever heard of ‘magic’ knitting?
Through Market Place and around the Castle and Cathedral a directional flow was in operation to control the crowds, but there was nothing to stop you lingering to admire a French entry, Les Lumineoles. The gracefully gliding fish were one of my favourite installations.
I managed to capture a video of these sinuous and wonderful creatures, but alas, I can only display it sideways! Lesson learnt for next time I use my phone camera? Perhaps! A short walk from here, across Elvet Bridge, you will find The Red House, created by France. The Old Shire Hall has been illuminated in warm shades of orange and yellow, with rainbow windows. A pretty red brick building by day, at night it radiates colour.
Silver St. was all aglow with lanterns, but my next destination was Fowler’s Yard, where I hoped to see something rather special.
I first heard about Stu Langley’s Wave a few months ago when he contacted my husband for assistance in bringing his project to fruition. A giant wave, fully clad in sea glass, was designed by Stu as a tribute to East Durham’s industrial heritage. Seaham, on the north east coast, was once home to Europe’s largest glass bottle works. Waste from this was dumped into the sea, and continues to be washed ashore today in the form of sea glass. An artist who works in stained glass, Stu was enormously enthusiastic about his project, and the involvement of the local community. Soon we too were gathering sea glass to cover this 2.9 metre high wave.
The sea glass had to be affixed to the wave by hand. Definitely a labour of love. Stu was standing there proudly beside ‘his baby’ when we arrived. He was so pleased that Seaham are interested in buying his creation for display after Lumiere. One more step in the regeneration of this former mining area, which suffered large scale unemployment with the closure of the pits. Stu has another installation on display in North Rd.- Wheels of Industry, a Robin Reliant with themed stained glass windows. Sadly, in all the excitement, we didn’t get to see it.
The lanterns lure us on towards Palace Green and the Cathedral, not quite sure what to expect. The previous two Lumiere’s had featured the Lindisfarne Gospels, marching with great drama across the front face of the cathedral. This year the son et lumiere was to be The World Machine – the story of the birth of modern cosmology from 12th century until the present day, and a collaboration of UK and Mexico. I really can’t do it justice with photographs, but there is a short video at the end of my post to give you a better idea.
Let’s continue into the cathedral itself. Complex Meshes is another French installation, clinging colourfully to the ribbed vaulted arches, whilst music floods the vast space. This was an opportunity to take a seat, and simply wonder.
The cloisters , for me, are one of the cathedral’s most beautiful features. I was spellbound by them during Lumiere 2013, but this year it was my husband’s turn to get excited. Litre of Light is a replica of the cathedral’s own rose window, made from thousands of plastic bottles.
Leaving the cathedral, further delight awaits. Garden of Light, another French installation, brings a hint of fantasy. Giant illuminated plants bring a tropical vibe to a wintry English November. Smiling faces abound, and selfies too!
From this garden of delight, you are directed down to the river bank. At Prebend’s Bridge you find Rainbow River, a prism casting coloured patterns over the Wear. Crossing to the far shore the path rises quite steeply and you are treated to a view across to the cathedral.
South St. takes you past some lovely old Durham houses and back to the centre. There are other installations in the surrounding area if time and your tired legs permit. When I passed by Elvet Bridge early in my walk the crowds were quite dense, and so I came to miss one of the stars of the show, Mysticete by France. This company was responsible for Elephantastic in Lumiere 2013 and amazed all of Durham. Unfortunately the last showing was at 10.45, and unaware of this I barely managed to see the flip of the whale’s tail from the riverbank.
Durham can be subject to flooding and on the last night Mysticete had to be cancelled due to rising water levels. I do recommend that you watch this short video, which brings to life all the 3D effects and drama that I cannot hope to replicate.
What more to say other than ‘hope you enjoyed the show’? Terrible to think that, whilst I was there, horrific events were unfolding in Paris. The last couple of days have been harrowing. I would like to end on a positive note though. The future looks bright for young Stu Langley. He will be featured on the “One Show” in early December.
That’s it for another week. I’m exhausted, aren’t you? But exhilarated too. Please find time to visit all these wonderful walks I have to share, and huge thanks to all my contributors. If you’d like to join me with a walk, details can be found on my Jo’s Monday walk page. The logo takes you there. I will not be posting walks for the next two weeks however, as I take myself off to the Algarve. Kettle on and here we go!
Gilly has out-bedazzled all of us with her Autumn scenes this week. Don’t miss!
Elaine found a few leaves to kick too, and a companion!
Why not share a few beautiful moments with Drake, at St. Pancras :
Back to the South of France, where Phoebe finds some leaves in the loveliest setting :
An upbeat neighbourhood stroll next, with Amy for company :
What do trees and the Spanish Armada have in common? Visit Jude to find out!
And you can never have too much of a good thing, can you? Jude’s other blog :
Jackie finds some more interesting spots to show us :
From Toronto to Montreal seems a natural progression, doesn’t it?
In Tasmania, Ruth finds us ‘another’ Richmond :
Join the energy debate with Anabel! Do you like wind turbines?
I always like a touch of the exotic. You’ll never believe what Kaz found me for ‘lunch’ :
Here we go, scaling the heights again, in Snowdonia!
Pauline is briefly home, with some more deliciousness in tow :
And lovely Lisa is enjoying all that Sydney has to offer :
Still Down Under, I meet a Queen’s Tree, in Perth :
That’s it for now. Once again my thanks to everybody. I don’t leave until next weekend so I will still be scurrying about visiting you all till then. In the Algarve I switch off from the world. Take good care of yourselves, please.