More than 150 local people aged from 4 to 85 years participated in Keys of Light. Pianists performed live music from Shostakovich to ‘The Greatest Showman’ to generate an ever-changing kaleidoscope of colours and patterns across the exterior of Rushford Court with every chord. One performance in particular of ‘Divenire’ by Ludovico Einaudi by a Durham University student was even the soundtrack to a marriage proposal in the audience.
Hundreds more local people had taken part in the preparations for this tenth anniversary festival, helping to make installations such as Bottle Festoon, Friendship Tree and Are Atoms Alive?. Students from Durham Sixth Form Centre collaborated with Portuguese artists Ocubo and Storybox from New Zealand to make Are Atoms Alive?, a short film exploring science displayed across nine shipping containers. East Durham College students reimagined the student union building Dunelm House with a new video projection artwork Lift Off, developed from the Apollo 50 project in Peterlee earlier this year. Dan Shorten from Guildhall School of Music & Drama, who provided guidance for this project, also presented the immersive walkway Light Tunnel, located in Crown Court Gardens which proved to be another crowd-pleaser.
Once again, the BRILLIANT programme offered four talented local people the opportunity to create a completely new piece of light art and play a central part in the festival’s 10th anniversary. Lucy McDonnell’s End Over End, a super-sized neon slinky, brightened up the Milburngate site, whilst Penelope Payne’s projection, Blue Skies, tucked under Milburngate Bridge, also brought a touch of sunshine to the festival despite the weather. Keen-eyed visitors will have spotted Mike Donaghy’s playful alteration of two sets of traffic lights for his artwork A Different View. By contrast Washed Up, an assemblage work made from bright plastic objects found on the beaches of the North East, delivered a serious message, with artist Diane Watson encouraging people to look closer and consider the impact of their plastic use.
The Next Page, a striking neon words artwork displayed on the back of Clayport Library will become a permanent fixture in the city thanks to support from the Banks Community Fund. Created as part of a project with women at HMP Low Newton following a series of writing workshops with poet Hannah Jane Walker, it will join the existing permanent Lumiere installations, Heron, Lightbenches and Helvetictoc, also supported by the Banks Community Fund.