SIX major new artworks are to light up landmarks across County Durham as part of this year’s Lumiere festival.

Marks in the Landscape will see the biennial event expanding beyond Durham City for the first time with significant installations at popular locations across the county.

Organisers of Lumiere 2021 say it will ‘reimagine the historic contours of county and city, politics and society, through dramatic installations, spellbinding projections and quiet and poignant works, showcasing the infinite possibilities of light art in all its forms’.

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As well as the artworks in Durham, they will also be at Finchale Priory, Penshaw Monument, Raby Castle, Ushaw Historic House and Gardens, Peterlee and Seaham Marina.

Councillor Amanda Hopgood, leader of Durham County Council, said: “As the UK’s leading light festival, Lumiere has truly put County Durham on the map and is a shining example of how culture enhances the vibrancy of our communities.

“It also demonstrates the scale of our cultural ambitions, which are driving forward the Durham 2025 campaign and no doubt helped to secure our place on the UK City of Culture 2025 longlist.

“Lumiere’s return is all the more special this year, as it is the first-time the installations will be spread across the county, making it even easier for our residents to enjoy the magic of the festival.

“It will also encourage visitors to explore other parts of our wonderful county, extending the economic benefits the event brings.”

For the county-wide community programme, six international light artists were invited to respond to previous interventions in the landscape made by humans across County Durham.

Funded by the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund awarded to Durham County Council and spanning almost 500 years from a medieval priory to an iconic brutalist pavilion, these new works offer a different take on familiar landmarks brought to life in unexpected ways.

Cllr Hopgood said: “The programme reflects the spirit of creativity and innovation we pride ourselves on here in County Durham and I can’t wait to share this unforgettable experience with our residents.”

The festival runs from Thursday to Sunday November 18 to 21 and the full programme of 37 international artworks was revealed on Tuesday.

Highlights include a newly-commissioned work in collaboration with Durham University, New Writing North and leading international poets, whose illuminated words will be projected onto Durham Castle; a video-mapped journey from reflection to celebration on Durham Cathedral’s facade; and Lumiere’s first online interactive artwork that allows anyone to take part from wherever they are.

Covid-secure measures will be in place, including ticketed time slots throughout the event to manage audience numbers in the controlled central Lumiere zone and clear protocols for all working on the festival.

Created by Artichoke, the UK’s leading producers of art in the public realm and commissioned by Durham County Council with additional support from Arts Council England and a host of additional funders and supporters including Durham University.

Artichoke is marking the return to live events by presenting its most ambitious and far-reaching edition of Lumiere yet.

The turbulence of the past 18 months is addressed in several works, while the overarching issue of climate change and its environmental impact are huge influences on Lumiere artists this year.

The programme also addresses urgent questions of inclusivity and diversity, through the range of artists represented and the work they have made.

Helen Marriage, Director of Artichoke, said: “It has been an extraordinary and unimaginable two years since we celebrated the 10th anniversary of Lumiere.

“None of us could have foreseen the pandemic from the perspective of 2019 and the trauma and disruption that it would visit on our communities.

“This year’s festival is therefore very special, not least because there has been so much uncertainty around whether or not we would be able to make it happen.

“So we begin by saying this is a celebration.

“And all the more so with the exciting news that County Durham has been longlisted for City of Culture 2025.

“It’s also an affirmation of the strength of the amazing partnerships and collaborations Lumiere has built across County Durham over the last ten years: with our Commissioner Durham County Council major partner Durham University, within the local community, and with all of our partners who have demonstrated such faith, confidence and resilience during the long planning process in the production of this event.

“And Lumiere continues to grow deep roots.

“For the first time, we are launching a brand-new programme of major installations taking the festival out across County Durham, and further embedding a countywide participation programme that has involved thousands of local residents and young people in Lumiere projects over the last decade. Other significant new initiatives include a wonderful first collaboration with some of the UK’s leading poets, and our first-ever digital artwork hosted online, enabling the global Lumiere community to join in the magic wherever they are in the world.

“As ever, artists sit at the heart of our work. Their ability to transform the everyday, to make us look with wonder at the truth that lies just below the surface of our complicated lives, their messages of hope for a different future and reflections on past lives – this is the important core of this year’s Lumiere programme and the centre of Artichoke’s work.”

Lumiere is open each night between 4.30pm and 11pm in Durham City, and 10pm across the county.

The festival is free to attend and 29 of the 39 installations are always accessible without a ticket.

In a change from previous years, the controlled City centre area of Lumiere will be ticketed for the entirety of the festival opening times every night.

This is to manage audience numbers as part of measures in place to offer a Covid secure experience.

A timed ticket will be necessary to visit the controlled central Lumiere zone, but there is no time limit once inside.

Professor Janet Stewart, executive dean of arts and humanities at Durham University, said: “Lumiere holds a special place in the hearts of many and we are excited to once again be supporting the festival in lighting up our beautiful city for everyone to enjoy.

“Our continued support for Lumiere is part of our deep-rooted commitment to the community, supporting culture, creativity and heritage in our City, County and the North East. The three installations we are hosting will bring an inspiring dash of artistic creativity and vision to some of our newest and some of our most historic buildings.

“We are delighted that many enthusiastic staff and student volunteers from our University will be helping to make the festival a great success across our campus and the wider city.”

Tickets will be available online for local residents from 10am on Tuesday October 19.

Tickets will go on general release at 10am on Thursday October 21.

Letters have been posted to residents and businesses in affected areas with information about parking restrictions and road closures.

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