From a whale in the Wear to a giant slinky: 11 of the spectacular artworks you can expect to see at Durham's Lumiere

Lumiere will once again be tripping the light fantastic when it returns to Durham City for four nights from Thursday, November 14 to Sunday, November 17.

Thursday, 7th November 2019, 4:00 pm
Updated Thursday, 14th November 2019, 6:31 pm
Neon Dogs, Deepa Mann-Kler, Lumiere Derry~Londonderry 2013, Produced by Artichoke, Commissioned by UK City of Culture 2013, photograph by Chris Hill.

There will be 37 artworks spread across the city, which feature past favourites, as well as new commissions, to celebrate the spectacular’s 10th anniversary and we’ve rounded up just some of the highlights here. Created by Artichoke, the festival is free to attend but tickets will need to be obtained. More information here.

Celebrating the power of collective action, this simple, bright and playful artwork returns to Lumiere. Pull the chain switches to light up the surface of the CLOUD. Celebrating the power of collective action, this simple, bright and playful artwork returns to Lumiere to shine a light on an everyday object. As the incandescent light bulb is phased out in the EU and around the world, CLOUD reminds us of the moment we switch from one mode of technology to the next and asks us to imagine what might come next. Pull the chain switches to light up the surface of CLOUD.
Durham-based artist, Chris Plant started out as a musician and began creating visuals for bands, raves and night clubs in the early 90s with handmade slides and 16 mm film, before moving into computer graphics and interactive installations. Chris’s practice now includes a mixture of creative programming, electronics and light art installations.

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A public statue of the 3rd Marquess of Londonderry, known to generations in Durham as ‘the man on the horse’, is no stranger to controversy. An Eton-educated MP and Lord-Lieutenant of the county, he was considered a brutal oppressor of the miners employed in his pits. More recently, his statue was the subject of local debate over whether it should be removed or moved. An original commission for Durham in 2011, the snow globe makes a spectacular return to Market Place. The Marquess is transformed into a larger-than-life figurine, adorned with the pink neon words, ‘I Love Durham’. Watch as ‘the man on the horse’ disappears in a billowing blizzard, just like the snow globes many of us enjoyed as children.
For the Birds invites visitors on an immersive journey through a woodland filled with over 20 light and sound installations inspired by the delicate beauty of birds. This hidden gem premiered at the RSPB reserve in Ynys Hir in Mid Wales and was a firm favourite with Lumiere visitors in 2017. For the Birds returns for the festival’s 10th anniversary edition. Venture outside the city centre to experience a nocturnal adventure in the wilderness of Durham University’s Botanic Gardens.
Comprised of seven screens spread across nine shipping containers, Are Atoms Alive? takes us on a journey from the sparkling expanse of the galaxies to the depths of the cells dividing in our bodies. The artwork was inspired by the uninhibited curiosity of the title-question asked by the 6-year-old son of one of the artists. This bespoke version of the installation was adapted by students at Durham Sixth Form Centre in workshops using imagery of the city.
Milburngate is transformed into a nocturnal playground by a super-sized version of a classic toy by artist Lucy McDonnell. Each coil of the oversized spring is illuminated in turn, creating the familiar flowing form of a Slinky tumbling into the shadows. Inspired by the artists’ children’s toys, End Over End playfully subverts our sense of scale.
Capturing the beauty and wonder of the night sky, The Stars Come Out at Night brings the sparkle of starlight down to earth. The installation gently rotates casting a universe of stars across the ground, just like the night-time projectors that soothed many of us to sleep as children. The piece is accompanied by an original soundtrack by Oliver Vibrans.
Fujiko Nakaya has been transforming public spaces around the world for over half a century with her ephemeral fog sculptures. An original commission for Lumiere 2015, Fogscape #03238 returns to cloak the riverside in plumes of ghostly water vapour. By bringing the clouds down to the ground, the artist hopes that people will be reminded of their own role in climate change. Fujiko Nakaya produced the world’s first fog sculpture in Osaka, Japan in 1970, by shrouding the roof of the Pepsi pavilion with artificially-produced fog. Since then she has created more than 90 of these immersive installations in cities and national parks across the world.
Catch a glimpse of a colossal Baleen Whale in an unexpected environment. Top’là Design’s remarkably life-like 3D water-screen projection of this endangered species makes a splash at Lumiere again this year. Reminding us of the vulnerable beauty of nature, Mysticète highlights our duty to protect the Earth’s creatures, a message that’s more pertinent now than ever before. The installation is accompanied by a mesmerising soundtrack by Laurent Frick.
This joyful collection of 12 colourful canines, complete with bones and dog mess, is sure to bring out the big kid inside all of us. Neon Dogs was first created as an original commission for Lumiere Derry-Londonderry 2013 BRILLIANT competition, which invited anyone originally from or currently living in Northern Ireland to submit a bright idea for a Lumiere light installation.
The connection between geometry and nature inspired this mesmerising new artwork. The projection illuminates the trees on the banks of the River Wear with computer-generated patterns, created using the Fibonacci Sequence and other mathematical patterns found in the natural world. Javier Riera views geometry as a language capable of describing the veiled rhythm of nature. This artwork aims to create a deeper connection between the audience and the natural environment, highlighting hidden locations and drawing attention to the many layers that make up our world. Look out over the Wear and feel the energy of Durham’s landscape by night.