Organisers of Lumiere in Durham say this year’s edition attracted an estimated 160,000 visitors as the lights go out on the illuminated art biennial.

Highlights of the four-night spectacular included Javier Riera’s mind-bending Liquid Geometry, a 270-degree immersive abstract artwork projected onto Durham Cathedral and adjacent buildings.

Inside the Cathedral, 4,500 fluttering light bulbs arranged overhead in an undulating canopy, which visualised the pulsating heartbeats of the audiences beneath.

The Northern Echo: Lumiere 2023

Adam Frelin’s sequentially-illuminated arches for Inner Cloister recalled the footsteps of monks of old while Ai Weiwei’s four-metre high Illuminated Bottle Rack decorated with 61 antique and vintage chandeliers glittered in the Cathedral’s atmospheric Chapter House.

On Blank Pages by Luzinterruptus, an interactive artwork of thousands of illuminated notebooks inviting visitors to share their thoughts about justice, was also a huge success.

Each night during the event, thousands added to the existing 15,000 pages featuring contributions from people involved in the justice system, from police and prisoners, to court officials and lawyers, refugees, young offenders and victims of crime.

As part of a biennial spotlight on particular areas of County Durham, this year’s Lumiere also included four installations in Bishop Auckland.

Spanish artist, Daniel Canogar’s Amalgama Spanish Gallery drew on the collection held in the Spanish Gallery to create a beautiful projection that melted across the exterior of the building.

On the other side of Market Square, Phil Supple’s The Drop animated Auckland Tower with light, choreographed to a lively musical score composed by collaborator and sound artist Toby Park.

The Northern Echo: Lumiere 2023

Cllr Amanda Hopgood, leader of Durham County Council, which commissions the event, said: “You only need to see the expressions on people’s faces to know how much they’ve enjoyed this year’s Lumiere.

“It’s an event that always brings so much fun, wonder and joy into people’s lives and somehow it manages to get better and better each time.

“It’s attracted tens of thousands of people into Durham City and Bishop Auckland over four November nights, generating a massive boost for the local economy while shining a global spotlight on our county.

“Events like Lumiere are key to cementing our position as the culture county, which is all about reaping the huge benefits that cultural activities bring to our economy and our communities.”

The Northern Echo: Lumiere 2023

The illuminating attractions, which closed on Sunday, included 40 artworks by artists from 15 countries with 18 new commissions, seven UK debuts, including Ai Weiwei, Chila Burman and Rafael Lozano-Hemmer

There was community involvement from 316 volunteers, 1,800 local residents and schoolchildren across five projects

The professional programme included 50 festival directors and art professionals from around the world.
The Northern Echo: Lumiere 2023

Artistic director of Artichoke Helen Marriage said: “Each edition of Lumiere is an opportunity to create an outdoor art gallery on a grand scale and for me, this year’s was the most exciting and impactful yet.

“The idea is to explore familiar places through the eyes of the artists, and to take our audiences with us on this journey.

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Lumiere is now established as the UK’s light art biennial, and as well as the tens of thousands of visitors who came to Durham and Bishop Auckland to experience this extraordinary exhibition, festival directors and art professionals from across the world gathered as part of our professional programme.

“To put on this scale of event is not possible without the huge effort from our hundreds of local participants and volunteers to the artists, technicians, riggers, projectionists, security and crew, all of whom have pledged to support our sustainable Lumiere commitments.

“It is a huge endeavour and I’m particularly proud of how much we’re achieved in making Lumiere more accessible – not an easy feat in a dark medieval city with steep cobbled streets filled with tens of thousands of visitors.”

The Northern Echo: Lumiere 2023

The Northern Echo: Lumiere 2023

The Northern Echo: Lumiere 2023

The Northern Echo: Lumiere 2023

The Northern Echo: Lumiere 2023