Wednesday, 1 January 2020

Lumiere Light Festival, Durham - 2019

Once again the Lumiere light festival rolls into town. 2019 marks the 10th anniversary of the UK's largest outdoor light festival and once again, it didn't disappoint. Having said that, the poor weather conditions put a massive dampener on the event, as rain fell continuously on the first three nights, scuppering any chance of me repeating last years feat, when I attended all four nights. Sadly, this year wasn't going to be anywhere near as productive, as far as photography goes, as I managed to attend one night only. I certainly don't mind a bit of rain, but when you're trashing through the city with expensive camera gear, it's not a good idea to invite water damage, despite your best efforts to avoid it. Been there, done that!

And so to Lumiere 2019...
I was a bit late to the ticket office this year. Shoulda had my arse into gear earlier for this one, but I slipped up and only managed to get my hands on tickets for the Sunday night. Never mind, I'll get me'sel along nice and early to get into the main 'peninsula' as they call it. Around 4pm I parked up at the top of Claypath and made my way down the bank and into the Market Square, where I was greeted by the first installation of Lumiere 2019. And what an introduction, it has to be said - a giant inflatable snow globe, named 'I LOVE DURHAM' … that dominated the square. As dusk was almost upon us, I fired off the first shots of the event, as the crowds began to descend on the city. Once the snow globe was in full flow it certainly was an eye-catching installation and with the blue hour sky as a backdrop … well, the show was well under way!

From the Market Square I headed up towards Durham Cathedral, which traditionally, is the main focus of the Lumiere event, with large projection visuals on the fa├žade of this historic building. This years Cathedral light show was called 'STONES' a shapeshifting video mapped animation composed soundtrack that constantly evolved. Near where I stood was a small tent, where limited numbers of visitors were invited to manipulate the installation by interacting with the stones controllers. It was next to the tent that I set my gear up to photograph this visual light show. When I ready to begin, I noticed a few visitors had gathered either side of me, throwing some nice shadows onto the ground, which made for some fine foreground detail. The browny red wood chippings caught my eye too. The whole of palace green lawn was covered in them, to avoid it becoming something of a mud bath. The light show and soundtrack was very, very effective, so I filmed a short part of it, while taking stills at the same time. To view my Lumiere 2019 video highlights … click here.

Moving on once again, I headed down towards the Count's House & Prebends Bridge, taking in more installations - THE STARS BENEATH OUR FEET...BOTTLE FESTOON and GEOMETRICAL TRACES. From Prebends Bridge we were guided along the riverside towards probably the most eye-catching installation of them all … FOGSCAPE !!  The riverside, near Fulling Mill, was transformed by plumes of ghostly water vapour, creeping through the trees on the riverbank and onto the river wear, itself.

We were swiftly moved along by the over keen event staff, who were adamant that no-one was going to stop to take photographs. Well they got that one wrong ha! Moving along the riverside at a decent pace, I found myself heading along towards Pennyferry Bridge, near the Radisson Hotel. It was here, on the river, where another popular installation was situated. MYSTICETE, a life-like 3D water screen projection of a colossal Baleen whale in an enexpected environment. As the crowds gathered along the waters edge, it wasn't easy to command a good spot to photograph from, so I had to wait until the next projection to get my opportunity. The water spray from the installation tried its very best to soak my camera's, but I was equipped with a plastic bag to fend off any chance of water damage. I think I done reasonably well, ha!

To end the night, I headed into Walkergate and over the Elvet Bridge, towards Old Elvet and the County Court area, taking in the following installations ...END OVER END, THE FRIENDSHIP TREE, HERON, CLOUD, WAVEFIELD VARIATION H and LIGHT TUNNEL, plus HELVETICTOC, THE NEXT PAGE, WASHED UP, FOOL'S PARADISE and THE STARS COME OUT AT NIGHT.

Considering I only had one crack at it, I was well happy with how much I actually managed to photograph. I didn't even stay till the end (11pm), as I had to be up early the following morning for work. I clocked off around 10.15pm. There wasn't even time for a bit to eat, which is always part of the game when I 'm out with the camera. No Bell's chippy this time round - the Q was out the door!!

So that's it for another two years, when the Lumiere bandwagon rolls into town once again. Was 2019 as good as previous events? Well, pretty hard to judge. There was, as always, the highlights of the event - plus the odd installation or six that made up the numbers, but all in all … can't complain - it is a FREE event, after all. I'll be back in 2021, no doubt. The moth is always drawn to the lights!

Catch u next time (wink)

Ash