light installations

Six word Saturday

A hangover from the old year

Scarcely were my feet back on English soil, last November, than I was scampering up to Durham to see Lumiere 2017.  The consensus was that, in comparison with previous shows, this one was a bit of a disappointment.  It’s hard to maintain such standards as were set in November 2015.

I’ve been so busy sharing my Algarve exploits that I’d almost forgotten about the show.  I thought it time to show you a few of my highlights, before I move on.  As usual I started my tour in daylight, curious as to what I’d find. Below we have ‘Dome and Arches’ in the Market Place.

One of my favourite light installations took place in Durham University Botanic Garden.  ‘For the Birds’ was very clever and wonderfully atmospheric, but extremely difficult to reproduce in photographs.  Softly tweeting birds, suspended on fine wires, swooped through the trees in the darkness.  Patches of dramatic colour illuminated the valley, leading you on a magical journey.

Castle and Cathedral next.  ‘Our Moon’ smiles, blinks, twitches and frowns as the faces of Durham’s residents animate the facade of the Castle.  The Cathedral complex came in for a lot of criticism.  The Nave of the Cathedral was flooded in an eerie light, while the cloisters featured ‘Entre Les Rangs’, illuminated ‘flowers’ intended as a tribute to shimmering fields of wheat.

In all there were 28 installations, scattered throughout the city.  My opening photos were taken inside St. Oswald’s Church and were probably my greatest challenge.  ‘What Matters’ features thousands of hand-blown glass pieces, depicting the birth of light in the universe.  Incredibly beautiful.

I hope any hangovers are long gone. and that you enjoyed this look back with me.  Don’t forget to share your Six Words with Debbie.

Jo’s Monday walk : Lumiere 2015

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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.

IMG_0583Behind 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.

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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.

Not a soul in sight!

Not a soul in sight!

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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.  IMG_0675

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.

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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!

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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.

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20151113_222637Just for Lumiere, fog swirls mysteriously above the river, rising through the woods .  Fogscape #03238 is a collaboration of the UK and Japan, conjuring up the spirit of St. Cuthbert in the mists.

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.

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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!

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Gilly has out-bedazzled  all of us with her Autumn scenes this week.  Don’t miss!

A Stourhead Stroll

Elaine found a few leaves to kick too, and a companion!

Wendover Woods

Why not share a few beautiful moments with Drake, at St. Pancras :

Started with a kiss

Back to the South of France, where Phoebe finds some leaves in the loveliest setting :

A (short) walk for all seasons

An upbeat neighbourhood stroll next, with Amy for company :

Monday Walk : SoCo, Austin

What do trees and the Spanish Armada have in common?  Visit Jude to find out!

Ancient trees and the Spanish Armada

And you can never have too much of a good thing, can you?  Jude’s other blog :

Garden Portrait : Croft Castle Walled Garden

Jackie finds some more interesting spots to show us :

Monday’s Walk- Toronto

From Toronto to Montreal seems a natural progression, doesn’t it?

Four Cities and an Island… Montreal

In Tasmania, Ruth finds us ‘another’ Richmond :

The oldest bridge in Australia

Join the energy debate with Anabel!  Do you like wind turbines?

A walk at Whitelee

I always like a touch of the exotic.  You’ll never believe what Kaz found me for ‘lunch’ :

Summit Gardens, Vanuatu

Here we go, scaling the heights again, in Snowdonia!

Flashback Walks : Tryfan 15/11/2014

Pauline is briefly home, with some more deliciousness in tow :

New Zealand Highlights

And lovely Lisa is enjoying all that Sydney has to offer :

Bondi Beach and Sculpture by the Sea

Still Down Under, I meet a Queen’s Tree, in Perth :

A Walk in the Park

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.

Jo’s Monday walk : sea glass at Seaham

The outlook at Seaham Beach

The outlook on Seaham Beach

This week I’m taking you back to the north east coast of England, with a bit of a purpose.  I’ll explain more later but I need you to keep your eye open for sea glass.  The beach at Seaham is one of the best locations I know for finding it.

Between 1853 and 1921 Seaham was home to Europe’s largest glass bottle works, supplying millions of hand blown bottles.  Enormous amounts of waste glass were left at the end of each day, and this was generally thrown over the cliffs and into the sea.  More than a hundred years later, scrubbed smooth by the power of the water, we have sea glass in many shapes and colours.  Are you ready to hunt?

With more pebbles than you could ever want

With more pebbles than you could ever want

And among those pebbles, the precious bits of sea glass.  You can follow the beach round to the small harbour and the lighthouse, if you like, but I’m going in the opposite direction- north towards distant Sunderland.

There's a lot of beach to examine!

There’s rather a lot of beach to examine!

Rusted groynes litter the shore

Rusted groynes litter the shore

Filling up with pebbles too

Filling up with pebbles

Incongruously, some have been mended

Rather incongruously, some have been mended

Overhead, the cliffs menace!

While overhead, the cliffs menace!

Let’s get up close and personal with a few stones.  You never know what you might find.

We're looking for a hint of glitter

We’re looking for a hint of glitter

Unconcerned, a man walks his dog

Unconcerned, a man walks his dogs

What's this?  Look at the shimmer!

What’s this? Look at the shimmer!

I simply love the textures

I simply love the textures

You might remember we did something similar just south of here on Crimdon beach, a while ago, and ventured into some caves beneath the cliffs.  I’m drawn on along the endless beach, intrigued by my surroundings.  Dog walkers pass me by, with a nod and a smile, and occasionally children ferret on the beach.

Mindful of the dangers these crumbling cliffs can pose, still it’s hard not to be lured closer.

The cliff formations fascinate

The cliff formations fascinate

Torn and twisted as they are

Torn and twisted as they are

And here a table, nicely laid

And here a table, nicely laid

You know that I’m not going to be able to resist some close ups, but I treat the cliffs with due caution and the respect they deserve.  So should you!

I know that some of you are claustrophobic so I won’t linger.  The fascination of the shapes and vistas can keep me endlessly there on the shore, forgetting my purpose.  That morning a lady was standing, her dog patiently at heel, gazing out to sea.  After the briefest of smiles, I carried on my exploration.  As I turned to retrace my steps, she spoke to me.  “Did you see the dolphins?”

Crestfallen hardly describes it!  I would have loved to see them and wished she had spoken sooner.  We stood a while, hoping for a return, but they had gone.  And so I climbed, regretfully, back up the steps.

Depending on the tide, this walk can be as long or as short as you want to make it.  If you are free the next few Sunday lunch times, you will assuredly have company on the beach.  My husband, who designs gardens, does most of his work with CAD (computer aided design).  He was more than pleased to be contacted recently by Stuart Langley, a local artist, in connection with a light installation to appear at this year’s Lumiere, in Durham.  It’s an imaginative and exciting event, and Stuart has been a previous contributor with his Stained Glass Cars.  The project he is working on requires a substantial quantity of sea glass, and so he’s hoping for some help in gathering it.

If you can help in any way the Lumiere site gives details.  The event itself takes place from 12-15th November, and if you can be there I can promise you a delightful evening.  It takes place on alternate years, and this was my post for 2013.  It was a magical occasion.

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No putting the kettle on today!  I will still be in Bristol for the Hot Air Balloon festival when you’re reading this, and not back till very late in the day.  As usual, I will catch up with you all as soon as I can, and apologies to all those who are sitting unattended in my Inbox.  There’s plenty to keep you busy till then because once again I have some wonderful walks to share.  Many thanks to all of you who have joined me and, if you would like to do so next week, details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.  Just hit the logo above.

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Gardens with rhodies have always been irresistible to me.  Bogs, not so much!  Thanks, Anabel!

Geilston Garden and Tom na h’Airidh

Hitting the heights with Drake!  Don’t we always?

Mountain high

A revelation for me about Toronto! Totally changed my thinking…  thanks, Jackie!

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More city madness with Pauline!  The inevitability of change :

Gold Coast Icons

If you’ve come to expect beauty from Amy, you won’t be disappointed here either!

Monday Walk : Banff Rocky Mountains

One of the best things about blogging is sharing magical posts such as this.  Many thanks, Suzanne!

Killarney x 2

Too good at speaking my mind, sometimes!  Hugs, please, for Jude :

The Levant Mine

A little bit of fairy dust, anybody?  Sure to find some with Violet Sky!

Wishes and dreams 

While anyone seeking inspiration should surely make a visit to Lucile :

The Quest for Inspiration

And anyone wanting to recapture childhood only needs to visit Gilly!

I Wish I was Ten Again

Debbie’s back from exotic Singapore with some cracking good sights!

Arty Stroll along Orchard Road

And to finish, from Laia, what could be better than?

A beautiful, pleasant walk in Abel Tasman National Park

Fantastic, aren’t they?  Nothing more to say than ‘have a great week’.  Hope to see you on the beach at Seaham, or failing that, at Durham in November.

 

 

Lumiere 2013 : Durham

IMG_1252Last night I had a fantastical journey around the city of Durham.  It isn’t every day that you find an elephant trumpeting and snorting in a city centre, but this was definitely one of the highlights of Lumiere 2013.  Where do people find the imagination and “know-how” to produce light installations like this?  I have no idea, but I thoroughly enjoyed the spectacle.

From the other side of the bridge, he shakes his tusks at me!

From the other side of the bridge, he shakes his tusks at me!

I thought I was going to be in for a disappointment, because the Park and Ride was already full when I arrived in Durham at 16.30.  No right-minded person attempts to drive beyond the outskirts when an event such as this is taking place.   But not being in your right mind sometimes pays off, and with a bit of frustrating driving and a hike at the end, a suitable slot was found for the car.

Was it worth it?  Of course!  The sight of the Lindisfarne Gospels marching across the face of the Cathedral to rousing music can compensate for a lot!  It was the only feature to be repeated from Lumiere 2011, and in a year when the Gospels had been on a summertime visit to the city, they were wholely appropriate.

My favourite part?  I could have loitered in the Cathedral cloisters endlessly (in fact, I did, and lost my husband for a little while).  Did you ever see anything more magical?

The frocks shimmered in the dark and then began to change colour

The frocks shimmered in the dark and then began to change colour

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I was spellbound!  The setting was perfect, the colours enchanting!  The night was bitter but for a while I didn’t notice.  Overall I think that Lumiere 2011 was more spectacular, but as I ended that occasion with a black eye, I was more than happy to celebrate light with Durham in 2013.

The event runs biennially and the organisers seem to have learnt since 2011, when the crush around the Cathedral was sometimes frightening.  This year there is restricted access to the city centre between 16.30 and 19.30, when you need a ticket to get beyond the barriers.  There is plenty to see elsewhere and maps are provided online, or handed out at the event itself.  (having printed one off, I forgot to take it, but the programme guides were readily available)  I suspect they will run out over the four day festival.

Some brisk walking took place around the city, passing excited groups and families with smiling faces.  There are lots of nice places to eat in Durham and after a meal in Bistro Italiano, it was time to enter the city centre for the finale.

I'll leave you dancing!

I’ll leave you dancing! (courtesy of Michael- his shot is better than mine)

Do visit if you can.  I’ve included links to the programme and the interactive site is full of suggestions for a good time.  It won’t be repeated till 2015!

Celebrating light with Durham

The Waterfall

The Waterfall

When a city you know and love hosts an international event you just have to be there.  Never mind if the result is a black eye.  It’s called suffering for your art?

Durham Cathedral

Durham Cathedral and the weir

In late Autumn’s fading light we wandered along the riverbank awaiting the moment of revelation.  So many times we had strolled these ancient cobbled streets but this evening something strange was in the air.

Flying man

Flying man

He and his many friends hovered above us, saying little but seeing much.  Slowly the light faded, the sense of anticipation building.

Cathedral spires

Cathedral spires

Durham County Council had worked overtime to provide a festival guide with a route map around the 35 installations.  As 6.30 approached we joined the shuffling crowds on Palace Green to await a spectacle that would stay with us forever.  The street lights dimmed and we collectively held our breath.

Flushed red

The Cathedral face flushed with red

Music crashed into the hush and a flood of red illuminated the front portal of the Cathedral.  Wave upon wave of images followed, their theme the Lindisfarne Gospels.

The Gospels So hard to capture, without specialist equipment, the drama unrolling before us.  “Crown of light” its formal title, had been recalled by popular demand from the previous Lumiere Festival in 2009 and it was very easy to see why.  I cannot begin to do it justice here but maybe you can gain some appreciation from www.lumieredurham.co.uk

When silence descended again it was time to set off on a voyage of discovery.  The street lights remained off to maximise the effects, which made negotiating the riverbank a little tricky.  But the views were spectacular.

The snow dome

The snow dome

One of our favourites had to be “I love Durham” in the Market Place.  The Marquess of Londonderry statue was captive inside an enormous snow dome, the like of which I have never seen.  I couldn’t conceive how such a thing was possible and the magic of the whirling snow flakes enthralled the crowd.

So much more was there to see.  We lingered beneath the towering illuminated viaduct as trains slipped across, seeming not to wish to disturb the soundtrack to the patterns created on the side wall of the North Rd Methodist Church.  Up the steps to the Gala Theatre, head swivelling to take it all in.

And then disaster befell.  My eye was caught by “60 second Cathedral”, a Polish projection of skydivers on the Claypath Library.  Triumphantly I gestured to my partner, before tumbling head over heels over a concrete block.

Thank you to the people who scrambled to put me back together again.  Michael looked more dazed than I felt!  I was just gratefull that my fall had come at the end of our  tour and we could go home with the memories intact.