08 August 2011
A major trans-European artistic collaboration will be launched at the Skyway Festival in Torun, Poland, this week, before being seen at the Valgusfestival Tallinn, (Estonia) in September, and at Lumiere in Durham (UK) in November.
Three artists – one from each country - have each been commissioned to create a work of art for the three light festivals in a collaboration given the over-arching title Lux Scientia. The three artists – Simeon Nelson (UK), Dominik Lejman (Poland) and Leonardo Meigas (Estonia) will each collaborate with a scientist and all three works will explore both the scientific and aesthetic aspects of light.
Lux Scientia aims to act as a platform for debate about how the different artists’ vision relates to the their installation in different spaces and environments, and to raise awareness of a shared European heritage, foster mutual understanding and celebrate the cultural diversity of the three countries. Each festival will hold a round table discussion between resident artists and scientists culminating in a symposium in London curated by cultural programmer and designer Mario Caeiro.
LEONARDO MEIGAS’ work currently explores the scientific phenomenon of the Hartmann Grid. His piece will take the form of a multimedia installation of ‘invisible walls’ that appear when lit. The goal is to recognize the existence of natural radiations and their effect.
DOMINIK LEJMAN’s large-scale works aim to create a new kind of ‘urban’ light-painting – a technique involving video projections onto buildings, whose façades become highly charged historical canvases.
SIMEON NELSON is a sculptor who is concerned with the interaction between mankind and nature. Collaborating with scientists, philosophers and theologians, Nelson works to connect science with human understanding of the world.
The three artworks will be presented at all three festivals, each of which is independently curated and has a different theme and focus but all of which aim to present a series of installations, projections and performances created by artists using the medium of light. All three festivals have built a strong critical following and attract mass audiences. 75,000 people visited the inaugural Lumiere Festival in 2009, and the oldest of the festivals, Valgusfestival (Tallinn), now attracts around 120,000 people. Each festival creates a context in which the nighttime economy of their city is enhanced by the large numbers of people who come out to attend events in the streets after dark.
The social aspects of this animation of the city are easily proved, with reductions in crime and anti-social behaviour and an increase in night-time trading.
The partnership has been brokered by British event producers Artichoke, who produce the Lumiere Festival and are well known for mounting large-scale, site-specific events such as The Sultan’s Elephant and Antony Gormley’s One & Other. The project has received funding from the European Commission’s Culture Programme, demonstrating the power of cultural events to attract inward investment and build local economies.
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission.
We are delighted to announce the final selection in the competition for local artists in this year’s Festival programme. Entitled 'Brilliant’, the brand new commissioning strand is supported by Newcastle Gateshead Initiative, and offers opportunities for people based in, or originally from the North East, to develop and produce their ideas for artworks using the medium of light to be showcased at the festival in Durham this November.
Four ideas have been selected from nearly 60 proposals submitted by local artists, designers, students and the general public, following the open call for submissions earlier this year. The four proposals were chosen following a rigorous three-stage process, the final stage of which involved site visits and interviews with each of the finalists. The successful proposals were selected on their artistic merit, as well as how each would develop the skills of the artists involved. An essential consideration was the way they all specifically explore the use of light as a primary medium, rather than using it to highlight or illuminate something else.
The successful artists, all based in North East, will form part of the Lumiere programme in November. They include Mick Stephenson, a local builder; Dan Ziglam and Elliot Brook of product design agency, Deadgood; Paul Goodfellow, a lecturer at Northumberland University; and visual artist Bethan Maddocks working with theatre designer and visual artist Verity Quinn.
The artists will spend the time from now until the festival developing their pieces, be that working with community groups, adapting their designs to fit locations available in the festival and physically testing and creating the works. They will work closely with Artichoke who will support them in their endeavour to create their lightworks for the festival. Precise details about the each lightwork will be kept tightly under wraps until the final festival programme is revealed later this year.
Deadgood is a successful Newcastle-based British design brand, run by Dan Ziglam and Elliot Brook, who met whilst studying Three Dimensional Design at Northumbria University. The pair set up an annual regional design exhibition that promotes new design talent in the region, and deliver the ‘Enterprise in Design’ lecture series at Northumbria University’s School of Design. Deadgood will create a lightwork inspired by a natural weather phenomenon.
54 year-old builder, Mick Stephenson, is from Durham City, and runs a small family design and build company, Mick Stephenson Building Services. Mick, whose previous experience includes working on a local music festival and a background in audio-visual manufacturing, trained in art and design at Sunderland University. He will craft a beautiful light creation out of an everyday product that gets thrown away, in its millions, every day.
Paul Goodfellow is an artist-designer, and runs the BA degree in Motion Graphics and Animation Design at Northumbria University. He is a practising artist, with many years experience in computer animation, and is particularly interested in the relationship between computer graphics and light. He will be developing an installation to be sited in an empty shop at a secret location within the city. Working with graduates and third-year design students at Northumbria University to help realise the piece, this lightwork is inspired by the local versus the global and will break down barriers between technology and art.
Bethan Maddocks & Verity Quinn
Bethan Maddocks, a visual artist, and Verity Quinn, a theatre designer and visual artist, are both based in Newcastle. Bethan grew up in a small village in County Durham, studied at Durham New College and Northumbria University and now exhibits and delivers art workshops around the region. She has worked and collaborated with organisations including Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, NGI, Wildworks and Sierra Metro. Verity’s roots are in Wallsend in Tyne and Wear, she has designed and worked with organisations including Northern Stage, Newcastle, Live theatre, Sage Gateshead and Enchanted Parks at Saltwell Park, Gateshead.
Both artists make work that creates immersive experiences for audiences. Together they will be working closely with specific communities in rural areas around Durham in order to uncover their hidden stories across generations. This will form the basis of their research to gain inspiration for the final designs of their lightwork.
Helen Marriage, co-director of Artichoke said: “In keeping with the wider programme of the Lumiere festival, almost all the local commissions are beautifully simple and original ideas. In one case, the piece was selected as a technically spectacular concept that will push the boundaries of what we know to be possible. In another, the piece will explore and portray Durham’s heritage in acknowledgement of a festival that is rich in international content but local at heart”.
Carol Bell, Head of Culture and Major Events at NewcastleGateshead Initiative said, “I am delighted to have been able to work with Artichoke on the development of “Brilliant" which is what it says on the tin, a fantastic opportunity for some amazing artists working using the medium of light, from and choosing to work in the North East to showcase their work on an national level.
“It has been a truly enlightening process, we have seen some amazing ideas and innovation, the chosen four have been selected both for the quality of their work, but also for the ability for the individuals to extend and develop their own artistic practice. I am extremely proud of the quality of all the proposals we received and of the shortlist. I am sure that the tens of thousands of people from the North East who see the results will have a great sense of pride in our creative achievements.”
Lumiere has been commissioned by Durham County Council, and is supported by Arts Council England. In 2009, the inaugural edition of Lumiere drew an estimated 75,000 people into the city over four nights, and generated some £1.5million for the local economy. Lumiere will return to Durham in November 2011 to showcase all the possible uses of light that artists can imagine. Festival producers Artichoke have travelled the world to find the most exciting and innovative installations and performances for the city’s audience. Witty, playful and imaginative - the festival aims to delight and surprise its audience and to stop people in their tracks.
Cllr Simon Henig, Leader of Durham County Council, said, “The selection of proposals for the local element of Lumiere is another milestone on the exciting journey towards this year’s festival, which promises to leave a lasting legacy for our community and economy. ‘Brilliant’ offers a fantastic platform for local artists to showcase our regional talent and creativity to a wider audience as part of a world-class international festival. It will enable the selected artists to further develop their knowledge and practice, with the support of the professional Artichoke team, and will bring benefits to the local communities with whom many of the artists will be working”.
The artworks selected for Brilliant are commissioned in partnership with NewcastleGateshead Initiative and are funded by Northern Rock Foundation.
27 January 2011
CLICK BELOW IN THE DOWNLOAD SECTION TO DOWNLOAD THE COMMISSION BRIEF DOCUMENT
Lumiere, Durham’s biennial light festival, returns this November for another four magical days transforming the city’s stunning buildings, streets and riverbanks, with a nocturnal winter festival that will amaze residents and visitors alike.
This year, you too can light up the night and have your work showcased at the festival in a programme of new commissions.
Festival producers Artichoke have joined forces with NewcastleGateshead Initiative to launch Brilliant: a programme to commission new ideas that delight & inspire and are witty & imaginative to feature in Lumiere 2011. Your idea can be a large or small-scale light work that excites, challenges or simply stops people in their tracks.
Have you got what it takes to be Brilliant?
This exciting opportunity is open to people from the North East of England and you can apply as an individual or a group. If your application is successful you will be supported to turn your idea into a reality. The commissions will be awarded on merit; no previous experience necessary, just great ideas!
Click below in the 'Download' section to download the Commission Brief Document that has all the information you need and details of how to apply.
Deadline for Stage One applications is Monday 7 March 2011.
We have created a mini-site full of useful information, links, tips and examples of the kind of work you could consider submitting. If you're considering applying with an idea, please visit lumierebrilliant.wordpress.com.
07 December 2010
I think it’s fair to say that the Sky Arts Artichoke Salon Series was a great success, not only in terms of attendance (thank you to the hundreds of people across the UK who came to listen and participate in these conversations) but also in terms of content.
The chair Tim Marlow expertly guided our cultural commentators around complex, and sometimes controversial, issues with the aim of opening up debates on the nature and use of our public spaces for public arts. What we got as an audience was a highly varied discourse on a topic that is hugely pertinent to today’s economic and social climate. In an interview with Artichoke Co-Director Helen Marriage, Tim outlined the importance of these conversations for "economic, social and cultural reasons" stipulating that they sit within a "critical territory" which it is our duty to interrogate.
Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past few months (these brave souls can definitely be excused), you’ll have no doubt heard that the arts sector has been responding to the recent announcement on government funding cuts to the arts at, arguably, a comparatively disproportionate rate. Since then, there have been daily stories of a myriad of cultural institutions all over the UK being threatened by the funding being pulled from under their feet. It’s not a pleasant landscape to look out onto.
Throughout the Salon Series, this economic situation provided an immediacy to the conversations that have been drawn out of the discursive trilogy, adding a passion and a nervous energy to the points being made; as though this public platform was a way in which supporters of the arts could come together and be reminded of the remarkable things which can be achieved - an allegorical spoonful of sugar to the sour tasting pill that has recently been swallowed.
As you may recall, we kick-started the salon series with The Politics of Cultural Disruption where we discussed the pros and cons of companies like Artichoke disrupting public services, daily routines, and limiting access to predominantly urban spaces with public art. From our panel of commentators and the audience we solicited different ways in which we can enable people to re-imagine their urban landscape through the imagination of artists.
The panel thrashed out a number of key issues including ‘health and safety of the audience’ versus, in Sarah Gaventa’s view, 'health and safety used as an excuse not to bother in the first place’ quoting, “Life’s a risk – isn’t that part of the fun of it?” Gaventa, Director of Public Space at CABE, went on to put forward the view that public art must be supported by, if not instigated by, great open spaces. She posited the need for open minds to design and look after those spaces, to allow culture to flourish, and to support creativity and fun.
When questioned about what public art really means, artist Marc Quinn commented that it “…gives you an opportunity for an unexpected encounter, to be caught off guard, and be moved in some way or to have an emotional reaction that you weren’t expecting. Outside space should be an unregulated free space…it should be a nebulas area of transition.”
True to form, frank commentator Janet Street Porter stirred things up on the subject of creating community identity and cohesion through public art, by saying that “art should be difficult and elitist: it doesn’t have to be ‘plebsville’. There’s nothing wrong with difficult art.”
The second Salon was held at the Williamson Tunnels in Liverpool and raised questions on City Limits; how much large-scale arts projects or festivals can push the resources of a place for the sake of public art, and art as a catalyst for regeneration. Artichoke’s La Machine project, which took over the city centre of Liverpool for 3 days in 2008, was used to illustrate many of the points discussed in this conversation.
The Right Reverend James Jones spoke about the positive impact of events like La Machine on the self-esteem and aspirations of a community, but also that it demonstrated what he fears most about contemporary urban regeneration programmes: that cities are suffering from 'urban diabetes': “This is where the blood pumps round the heart of a city and doesn’t reach the extremities - the outer estates - and they atrophy and die.”
Our panelists and audience wrestled with the difficulties of being granted permission for such large-scale public projects to which Helen Marriage, Co-Director of Artichoke, said, “we don’t, in general, tend to ask permission. We tend to go to the authorities and say ‘We’re doing this; how can you help us make this work?’”
Rather brilliantly, this is an opinion echoed at the final salon by Maggie Bolt, Director of Maggie Bolt Associates. When asked about how the arts might deal with the effects of the funding cuts, she encouraged the use of guerilla tactics suggesting that we shouldn’t wait for permission: “just do them…if you know you’re going to get the answer you don’t want, just don’t ask the question.”
This third and final Salon, The Gardens of England, focused on public arts in rural areas. Hosting the final debate at the Eden Project compounded a synergy between Artichoke’s work and this ecological development; both give a possibility of the outside, of events outside, of re-imagining spaces and manifesting a ‘bigger picture’.
Just five days after we had visited Eden Project mid-Cornwall was hit by one of the biggest floods in living memory. Many areas, including Eden Project, were plunged under several feet of water and mud causing damage and disorder to thousands of lives overnight. Five days later, then, a reminder of what the outside can really mean. No matter how planned events are something can always rearrange plans, and there’s nothing you can do about the force of Mother Nature!
For me, it was a timely reminder that ‘the arts’ has a job to do and a service to provide. It may not be about making houses safe again after flood damage, but in our own way, our job is to continue to commit ourselves to asking questions, causing problems, finding the answers, and opening up minds to the positive possibilities that surround us all everyday. We believe firmly that our work is about bringing people together on a large scale to create joyful, long-lasting memories of something they never thought possible; and ultimately to contribute to the bigger picture of cultural and social exchange in our communities.
These Salons were my first 'proper' Artichoke events since joining six months ago (having joined the company during the final throws of the Magical Menagerie in Milton Keynes). As the audience members of City Limits pointed out, I believe that instigating these conversations is arguably as important as the events themselves; it allows us to evaluate, remain current, and learn from each other which is something I’ve always admired about the arts sector; our willingness to share learnings, best practice, expertise and networks. And so, notwithstanding the doom and gloom of the funding situation we find ourselves in, I leave you with the words of Sarah Gaventa in her article Tate debate: open your mind to public spaces and remain ever optimistic for the future of art in public spaces:
“It is in the best of times that we expect to have great public spaces, but it is in the worst of economic times that we really need them to be great…They aren't a luxury but an essential natural health service, the ultimate drop-in centre – preventative healthcare that is far cheaper than the NHS, and without a waiting list." Sarah Gaventa, guardian.co.uk, Monday 21 June
If you missed out on attending any of the Salons, you can catch up by listening to or watching the various media on our event pages at artichoke.co.uk/talks.
13 September 2010
A new campaign, I Value the Arts, has been launched today urging the public to voice their support for the arts. Anyone who values the arts in their community is being asked to register their details on a new website: www.ivaluethearts.org.uk.
All those who register will be kept in touch with plans that could affect arts provision nationally and in their local neighbourhood, with practical suggestions on what they can do to strengthen the arts in their area.
I Value the Arts is led by the National Campaign for the Arts (NCA), the independent umbrella body for all the arts in the UK. Industry bodies are lining up to support the promotion of the campaign and the campaign website and associated technology has been made possible thanks to generous donations of skills, time and resources by industry suppliers. No public money is being used to fund the campaign.
Louise de Winter, Director of the NCA commented: “Three quarters of the adult population attend or participate in arts activities every year and an even higher proportion of young people. At a time of recession, more and more people are turning to the arts and culture. Reduced opportunities to take part in the arts could have a major impact on the quality of people’s lives and the vibrancy of their communities. As the Government is encouraging us all to get engaged and create a ‘Big Society’, we believe it is important for those people who care about the arts to get involved in the decision- making about what their communities will look like. This campaign gives everyone who cares a chance to have their voice heard and collectively show that the arts provide a valued public service.
Visit the www.ivaluethearts.org.uk website to register your email address and postcode, and be kept up to date with information about plans for your local area.
Organisations like Artichoke couldn’t exist if it weren't for funding received from our Government. As well as visiting the I Value The Arts website, please sign a petition to show your support for publically funded arts. The petition is not a way of the arts being exempt from cuts, but it is about asking that the sector is treated fairly in the coming spending review in October and to avoid ‘front-loading’ cuts.
The sector is bracing itself for 25% - 50% reduction in government funding. This would see an enormous shift in the cultural landscape, which is inevitable under the economy we have at the moment, but will cost jobs, livelihoods, and access to arts and culture in many areas of the UK – particularly at a local level. Those who can least afford it will feel the knock-on effects.
With 100,000 signatures on the petition, the Government has agreed to debate the value of the arts as a public service. Please take two minutes to advocate the importance of arts in the UK by signing the petition and forwading the information to anyone you think might be interested.