Lumiere 2019: 'Brilliant' new creations for 10th anniversary of light festival in Durham

Know Thyself by Finola Finn, one of the BRILLIANT winners from 2017. Picture by Matthew Andrews
Know Thyself by Finola Finn, one of the BRILLIANT winners from 2017. Picture by Matthew Andrews

Meet the new creative minds bringing their flare to Lumiere as the light festival returns to Durham for its tenth anniversary.

Thousands of people are expected to pour into Durham city centre for the 10th anniversary of the awe-inspiring festival of art and light this November.

2019 BRILLIANT winners (L-R) Diane Watson, Penelope Payne, Lucy McDonnell, Mike Donaghy. Credit Steven Landles.

2019 BRILLIANT winners (L-R) Diane Watson, Penelope Payne, Lucy McDonnell, Mike Donaghy. Credit Steven Landles.

The biannual event is organised by producers Artichoke on behalf of Durham County Council, with additional support from Arts Council England and a host of sponsors, trusts and foundations.

As part of the project, the company runs its BRILLIANT competition to choose four new creative visionaries for the North East . And the winners have been announced for this year.

Councillor Joy Allen, Durham County Council’s cabinet member for transformation, culture and tourism, said: “BRILLIANT is a fantastic opportunity for people in the North East to have their work featured in the UK’s biggest light festival, and it is great that Lumiere gives them a stage on which to showcase their work to tens of thousands of people.

"We’d like to congratulate the winners for their excellent entries and look forward to seeing them on show in this the tenth anniversary Lumiere, in what is our Year of Culture #Durham19.”

BRILLIANT, which is open to anyone living in, or originally from the North East, enables winning entrants to create a new piece of light art, which will then go on display at the UK’s largest light festival.

Related: Gorgeous pictures as Durham Lumiere team illuminates Apollo Pavilion landmark to celebrate 50th anniversary of concrete artwork

The four winning ideas were submitted by environmental artist Diane Watson, Whitley Bay-based artist Penelope Payne, Durham County Council worker Mike Donaghy and bespoke furniture design company director Lucy McDonnell.

Their ideas were selected from an open call earlier this year, which received almost 100 entries. The winners were chosen following an assessment of their written proposals, site visits to their proposed locations and in-person interviews.

They will now develop their works in close consultation with Artichoke, who will provide production advice and technical support to help turn their vision into a reality.

Artichoke said since 2011 the BRILLIANT competition has fostered created talent in the North East, providing a platform for emerging artists and non-artists to share their best creative ideas.

Artichoke has commissioned 17 new artworks as part of BRILLIANT, including Sarah Blood’s illuminated bird boxes, Sanctuary (2013), Victoria MacLeod’s giant knitting needles, Big Knitting (2015) and Aidan Moesby’s interactive installation, Sagacity: Periodic Table of Emotions (2017).

Previous participants in the BRILLIANT competition, some of whom had never practiced as an artist before, have been afforded further opportunities to exhibit at later Lumiere festivals in both Durham and London, as well as at other light festivals across the world, such as 2013 winner Stu Langley, who has since toured his installation Stained Glass Cars (2013) to several locations as far afield as Singapore.

Kate Harvey, Artichoke’s Senior Producer for Lumiere, said: “As we celebrate 10 years of Lumiere, it’s important that we acknowledge the success of BRILLIANT as a platform for promoting creativity in the North East. The scheme is a key part of the festival programme and propels the ideas of local people onto a national stage.

This year the submissions for BRILLIANT were hugely diverse and the quality exceptionally high, so it has been very difficult to narrow them down to just four winners.”

Winner Penelope Payne said: “Winning BRILLIANT will allow me to take my practice to the next level, giving me the skills to make more ambitious work, and allowing it to be seen by tens of thousands of people, which is very exciting.”

Fellow winner Mike Donaghy said: “It just goes to show that you don’t have to already be an artist to come up with a new and creative idea - everyone can be inspired by the things they see around them. I’m looking forward to working with Artichoke on creating my first ever artwork.”

Lumiere returns to Durham from 14th-17th November 2019 for a spectacular 10th anniversary edition, illuminating the city with past festival favourites and exciting new works by UK and international artists.

About the BRILLIANT winners

Diane Watson is an environmental artist on a mission to combat plastic pollution by turning it into art.

On her walks along the beach each day, Diane has collected thousands of plastic toys, bottles and other discarded items washed up onto the North East coast which she uses to create her kaleidoscopic sculptures.

She has an MA in Ceramics and more than 20 years teaching experience in arts education and community projects. Her work has been featured in several exhibitions including Thought Foundation, Festival of Thrift and Navigator North’s Latest Edition project.

Penelope Payne is based in Whitley Bay and works in a studio in Cullercoats on the North East coast. She has shown works in London and Venice and her installation You Make Me Think Of Dead Spiders was selected for the Middlesbrough Art Weekender.

Her proposed work for Lumiere Durham is inspired by the idea of discovering a secret glimpse of summer sky.

Mike Donaghy is an employee of Durham County Council. His BRILLIANT idea is inspired by a trip to Akureyri in Iceland and the heart-shaped traffic lights he saw there.

He hopes his artwork, a playful modification of daily life in Durham city, will also leave a lasting impression on passers-by.

Lucy McDonnell is the director of a small art and design company based at the Biscuit Factory Studios in Newcastle, making metal sculpture and bespoke furniture.

She has been involved in both small and large-scale sculptural projects over the years, but her first solo project Ursula Lassos the Moon was commissioned by Enchanted Parks and the Bowes Museum in 2017. Her winning idea is inspired by the link between toys and artworks, influenced by her two young children. NOTES TO EDITO