WHEN the clocks go back and night falls before teatime, little furry animals contemplate hibernation and it’s tempting to think they’ve got the right idea.
But wait a minute! Increasingly, it seems, there are people desperate to lighten our darkness and who view the night sky as a blank canvas.
The potential of winter in the North East has been fully realised in recent years by lighting festivals which go way beyond the traditional fireworks display. The number of artists who work with lights of all types seems to be growing as opportunities for them increase.
There’s no Durham Lumiere this year but Shimmer, which made its first appearance last year, is back at Whitley Bay where the inky blackness of the North Sea provides the perfect backdrop for the innovative lighting effects of the digital age.
Inside this month’s Culture you will meet the celestial pairing of Aether & Hemera, who moved impetuously from Milan to Middlesbrough and now do wonderful things with light. They talk about their lives and work and about their contribution to Shimmer, a potentially spectacular free show at the seaside.
We also have an interview with neon fan Sarah Blood whose work will be on display during November’s traditional Ouseburn Open Studios event.
Up in Northumberland, meanwhile, a virtue is made of the unpolluted night skies over Kielder for the Winter Wonderland shows which even attract people from Dubai (where, presumably, a North East winter is a novelty).
As people generally head back inside, theatres perk up and we’ve an uplifting interview with comedian and actor Rufus Hound who stars in one of the most talked about comedies of recent times.
We also put the focus on a theatre celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. Take a bow, Consett Empire, an entertainment hotspot in a town where snow tends to linger longer.
You will also find out about a wonderful attraction at the National Trust’s Wallington Hall where November Club theatre group are bringing a notable episode in the house’s history back to life.
On the music front, we talk to Peter Brewis of Mercury-nominated Field Music and concert pianist Murray McLachlan, one of the stars of the Northumberland Music Festival.
Does hibernation still seem such a good idea? We sincerely hope not.David Whetstone
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