Thousands joined us on the Sunny Blunts Estate in Peterlee to see Victor Pasmore’s Apollo Pavilion in a breathtaking, new light.
Apollo 50 was a mesmerising light installation, created by the Berlin-based artists, Mader Wiermann to celebrate 50 years of Victor Pasmore’s Apollo Pavilion in Peterlee. Over two evenings, more than 1,500 people from across County Durham and further afield joined us at the Sunny Blunts Estate to see the infamous brutalist structure transformed. Commissioned by Durham County Council as part of Durham’s Year of Culture, Apollo 50 bathed the Pavilion in a brand new video-mapped projection. During the artwork, which ran on an 8-minute loop, the audience saw the sculpture re-shaped through three different phases.
Firstly, the building was covered in monochrome, geometric patterns with splashes of vibrant colour, then the illuminated planes of the Pavilion slid seamlessly in and out of the darkness of the night, simultaneously highlighting Pasmore’s iconic design and re-imagining its structure. Finally, the hypnotic patterns peeled back to reveal the shadow of the Apollo 11 Lunar Module drifting waveringly across the facade of the Pavilion. The projection was accompanied by a gentle, undulating soundscape. On both nights, Mader Wiermann’s artwork breathed new energy into Peterlee’s Pavilion and reflected the daring optimism of the Apollo 11 moon landing which gave Pasmore’s innovative design its name.
The response to the installation, both online and in the local area was overwhelmingly positive. “I’m loving all the kids running around casting their shadows on the Pavilion like men on the moon”, said one onlooker. “Absolutely fantastic and great for the town to have something positive”, said another. Among the many positive comments online was one who said, “I can’t find the words to say how I felt about this. It was truly superb. It kind of felt like an ‘at last’ moment for those of us who have always been the beauty in this stunning piece of art. Thank you for bringing this to Peterlee.” Among the event attendees were Ralf Teepe, Head of Culture and Education at the German Embassy, which kindly supported the installation and John Pasmore, son of the Pavilion’s artist, Victor Pasmore.
Mader Wiermann designed Apollo 50 using the exact dimensions of Pasmore’s Apollo Pavilion, specifically as a one-off artwork. The installation is set to have a longer legacy through the launch of our new education programme, ‘Lift Off’. A group of Peterlee’s young people will be taking part in video mapping masterclasses in partnership with Guildhall School of Music and Drama’s BA course in Video Design for Live Performance. The sessions will offer them the chance to try their hand at the techniques used by Mader Wiermann to create Apollo 50. This experience will give the group a chance to develop valuable skills in this unique field as well as the chance to create a collaborative, original artwork for Lumiere Durham’s 10th anniversary edition in November.
Apollo 50 was commissioned by Durham County Council, produced by Artichoke and created by Mader Wiermann as part of County Durham’s Year of Culture. Apollo 50 was kindly supported by The German Embassy and ‘Lift Off’ is generously supported by The Ragdoll Foundation.