‘Lumiere’ – the UK’s largest festival of light – returned to Durham’s World Heritage Site this month to illuminate its medieval streets with spectacular lights shows, displays and installations from across the globe. This year, to mark UNESCO’s International Year of Light (2015), the Lumiere festival producers – Artichoke – hosted a conference titled ‘Light, Art, the Universe and Everything’, which, with the support of the UKNC, received patronage from UNESCO.
During the conference, a series of expert speakers took centre stage, in Durham’s Gala Theatre, including San Francisco-based activist artist and architect Deanna Van Buren, and Richard Kirk, a medical pioneer whose company PolyPhotonix in Durham is developing a new light-based technology to treat eye disease. These enlightening talks served to inspire and remind all that light really is ‘everything’.
Helen Marriage, Artistic Director of Artichoke, said, “Inspired by 2015’s designation as UNESCO’s International Year of Light, the Lumiere conference brought together international thinkers, scientists, artists and policy makers who are changing the world we live in, and inspired delegates from across the UK and beyond. We are delighted that ‘Light, Art, the Universe and Everything’ was granted the patronage of UNESCO and can’t wait to bring Lumiere London to the capital in January.”
The festival is renowned for showcasing breath-taking innovations using this luminous medium: in keeping with this tradition, the conference featured a range of talks which expanded our ideas of the possibilities of light.
lllac Diaz was one of the speakers at the conference. His project with MyShelter Foundation transforms old plastic bottles into cheap solar lighting for homes without electricity. To date, he has installed 35,000 bottle lights all over the world since 2006. Further developments into the use of light for social change came from Thabang Skwambane, whose organisation is launching the ‘The Giant Flag’ Project: a South African flag which will be visible from space, made up of millions of cacti and a four megawatt solar field, built to create jobs, encourage tourism, and promote solidarity.
If you missed the festival in Durham, Artichoke is bringing ‘Lumiere’ to London from 14 – 17 January 2016.