Lumiere producers launch competition to find new installations for 2021 show

The light art festival is committing more than £50,000 to fund six new designs ahead of its November 2021 event in Durham, UK.

A competition has been launched to find and fund six new installations for this year’s Lumiere Festival.

Now it its twelfth year, the annual Lumiere festival is the UK’s largest light festival. Established in Durham, it has also taken place twice in London and once in Derry, Northern Ireland.

This year’s competition, called Brilliant, is being led by Artichoke, the live event production company behind the four-day event. More than £50,000 is being made available to pay successful designers’ fees and production costs.

End Over End, by Lucy McDonnell, Lumiere 2019

“Encourage creativity across the nation”

In a bid to “encourage creativity across the nation”, this year’s competition will be open to entrants across the UK.

In previous years, the search was limited to residents in the North East of England. In 2021, three designers from the North East and three from elsewhere will be recognised.

The six successful entrants will each be awarded £1,000 in fees, as well as a budget of up to £7,000 to cover the cost of production. Mentoring will also be given during the production process.

Harmonic Portal, by Chris Plant, Lumiere 2017

“A bright idea”

There is no specific brief that designers have to work towards. Instead Artichoke simply stipulates entrants should have “a bright idea that will transform Durham’s urban landscape using the medium of light”.

A total of 21 installations have been produced via the Brilliant scheme during Lumiere’s history. Alongside the projects from internationally-renowned designers and artists, the installations have drawn in crowds of more than one million.

Successful designs from 2019 included Lucy McDonnell’s giant rainbow Slinky and Diane Watson’s light-up display of materials washed-up from the ocean.

Washed Up, Diane Watson, Lumiere 2019

“Traditionally dominated by white, male, non-disabled artists”

According to Artichoke director Helen Marriage, the hope with this year’s competition is to open up light art to a more diverse base.

“Light art has traditionally been dominated by white, male, non-disabled artists and we want to help change this by providing the financing, mentorship and technical support necessary for anyone with a great idea,” she says.

She and organisers are particularly encouraging applications from those who identify as deaf and disabled, as well as Black people and people of colour.

The deadline for applications for the Brilliant funding competition is 11 Feburary 2021. Find out more information here.

Banner image: Know Thyself, by Finola Fin, Lumiere 2017

I Haven’t Changed my Mind in a Thousand Years, by Beth J Ross, Lumiere 2013
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