YOUNG people from The Durham Federation school in Ushaw Moor will produce a major art installation at this year’s Lumiere Festival in November.

Through an innovative and learning project they will work with neon to light up their own words in a series of text light artworks called Article 12.

Twenty-five Year 9 students at The Durham Federation school are getting the chance to take part in neon making and creative writing workshops as part of an exciting new project to give young people a platform at this year’s Lumiere festival.

Durham secondary school students to write their words in light at Lumiere 2021

Durham secondary school students to write their words in light at Lumiere 2021

Jess, 14, student at The Durham Federation said: “There is a lot of pressure on the younger generation, but we don’t always feel we have a voice for people to hear us.

"I am excited to see my creative ideas put into action so other people can see them at Lumiere, and to get the chance to work with neon. I’m really proud of myself, and my friends, that we’ve got this opportunity to speak out and show other people what we’re made of and what we can do.”

Durham secondary school students to write their words in light at Lumiere 2021 1

Durham secondary school students to write their words in light at Lumiere 2021 1

Lumiere, produced by Artichoke and commissioned by Durham County Council with support from Arts Council England and a raft of funders and supporters, has worked with more than 10,000 local people across County Durham since 2009, bringing communities together to take part in making artworks, and leaving a legacy of skills and newfound potential behind.

Louise Dennison, head of learning and participation at Artichoke, said: “Article 12 is a really exciting and important project for us to be producing this year as part of Lumiere.

"This project offers the opportunity to collaborate with young people in the local area, whose voices are not normally given such a big and wide-reaching platform.

"Neon is such a legendary form of light to be working with, and this is an opportunity to explore the science of neon, as well as the creative process of designing the lightwork itself. It is the first time Lumiere has worked with The Durham Federation and it’s been great to work with this talented group of young people who have so many important things to say.”

This project, supported by County Durham-based Atom Bank, is themed around Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The students will take part in a series of creative writing workshops and then make their chosen words and phrases into neon text artworks. The finished artworks will be shown alongside international artists at Lumiere before being returned to the school.

Edward Twiddy, Chief Customer Office at Atom Bank said: “Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child confers on all children a right to be heard and recognises the ability of children to form their own views. It also places an obligation on us all to listen and take heed.

"And beyond extending respect and promoting self-expression amongst young people, we would all be well advised to listen up. Challenge and change will always come from what is new and vital, and with so much that needs to change it is key to hear what young people think and say. We’re delighted to be supporting Year 9 at Durham Federation to get their words and their voices heard and seen in this year’s Lumiere. Come along and see in lights what they have to say to us all.”

County council leader Councillor Amanda Hopgood said: “We want every young person in County Durham to understand the possibilities and opportunities open to them.

"One of the key reasons why we stage festivals such as Lumiere is that they allow our young people to take part in and experience a world-class cultural event on their doorstep, opening their eyes to careers they may never have considered before.

“It is also a driving factor behind our bid to be UK City of Culture 2025, as we anticipate increased opportunities for young people will be among the many social and economic benefits this status will bring to County Durham. As someone who grew up and went to school in County Durham, this is something particularly close to my heart. I am really excited to see what the pupils at The Durham Federation create as part of the Lumiere outreach programme. It’s sure to be a festival highlight.”

The Article 12 workshops delivered by Newcastle-based neon fabricators Neon Workshop collaborating with North East writer Lucie Brownlee started in June and will continue in September, when the students will have the opportunity to play and experiment with both words and neon and their final choices will be worked up into a design for neon text pieces. Neon Workshop, who fabricated the installation The Next Page for Lumiere 2019, which is now on display permanently in Millennium Place in Durham City, will consult with the young people on the design, including font and colour, and fabricate the artworks.

Lumiere will take place from Thursday November 18 to Sunday November 21. Latest updates can be found by following @artichoketrust | #LumiereDurham on social media.