Got any bright ideas? Well, make them known and in a few months’ time you could see them in the public spotlight, as BARBARA HODGSON reports
DAN Ziglam was on a train journey south when he picked up an email about a call-out to take part in Durham’s Lumiere.
It was an open invitation from the popular sound and light festival to come up with imaginative new ways of illuminating the medieval city by night.
At the time – a particularly drizzly day he remembers – Dan’s train was just passing Durham and he saw a faint rainbow in the sky. It was a bit of inspiration, he says now.
Fast-forward a few months and he and business partner Elliot Brook, of Newcastle-based design company Deadgood, were seeing that passing thought become a rainbow-shape reality.
They came up with a plan for a light installation turning Prebends Bridge into a walk-through rainbow and, as part of the 2011 festival’s newly-launched Brilliant project, were among a select group of people commissioned to share the limelight with local and international artists tasked with transforming the centre of Durham after dark.
Seen by 150,000 visitors over its four-night run, Lumiere, which made its debut in 2009, was a huge success and it’ll back for a third time this coming November with the organisers, London-based creative specialists Artichoke, offering another open opportunity to showcase good ideas with next Friday the deadline for Brilliant submissions. Helen Marriage, co-director of Artichoke which also delivered last year’s Peace Camp in Northumberland, said: “Brilliant adds a wonderful dimension to Lumiere.
“So often it is the simplest idea that has the greatest impact.”
Dan agrees that simple ideas are often the best and recalling the origins of Rainbow he says: “When I was travelling to London one day it was a really dark, damp November day.
“I got the brief in an email and it sounded an exciting project. I thought what could cheer Durham up in November and could we create a rainbow in November in the middle of the night.
“And there was a little rainbow in the sky – a bit of inspiration!”
He and Elliot – whose Newcastle- based company designs contemporary furniture, lighting and products – started off by having a walk around Durham to consider which area might work for them, with plenty of advice from the project’s technical director on how their Rainbow bridge could be achieved.
“This bridge had existing scaffolding as they were doing repairs and we were able to clamp lights underneath rather than have astronomical costs,” says Dan.
“It all fitted perfectly, with the bridge, the river, the scaffolding under, and the reflection.” Rainbow had two elements: a multi-colour tunnel – “the idea was that here you could get to the end of the rainbow” – and lights shooting upwards into the sky. “We were told they could be seen 20 miles away.
“I understand we got over 150,000 people through – that amount experiencing some of our work is great.
“When you design a piece of furniture it can be used by 600, 1,000 people. This was on a different scale.”
The experience proved a learning curve for the forward-thinking Dan and Elliot who met on the furniture and product design course at Northumbria University and set up their design studio in 2003, which kits out commercial interiors, hotels and bars and now has international outlets. In May they’ll be showcasing their new collection in London where they also have an office.
Rainbow was a new direction for them and one which quickly paid dividends, resulting in a new commission to their already-growing books.
Dan explains: “Someone had seen Rainbow and on the back of it asked us to take part in the Gravity Fields Festival in Grantham.
“We were commissioned to develop a magnified version for St Wulfram’s Church.”
At the science-theme festival in the home town of Sir Isaac Newton, they created a White Light installation on the church spire – one of the tallest in the country – which reflected the scientist’s famous experiments splitting white light through a prism into the colours of the rainbow.
It was a spectacular opener to the festival.
“It was bigger and more theatrical than Rainbow and the response was amazing. They’d never seen anything like it in Grantham!” laughs Dan.
A similar showcase opportunity will see those selected from Brilliant entries for this year’s Lumiere Festival featured alongside installations and sculptures by British and international artists.
While 2011 saw the return of the debut festival’s centrepiece Crown of Light, which projected scrolling images of the Lindisfarne Gospels on to the front of Durham Cathedral, Lumiere is about new ideas which pack a surprise for visitors.
Last time there was an illuminated waterfall, a giant snowdome and a fire garden inside the cathedral, while also among the four Brilliant commissions was Fusion by Durham-based builder Mick Stephenson whose light sculpture of everyday disposable objects from around the world appealed in its originality and simplicity.
Helen Marriage added: “We’re always on the lookout for these extra special possibilities for the festival.”
The invitation is open to literally anyone based in, or originally from, Durham or the wider North East.
Applicants should pitch creative ideas for artworks (and light should be at the centre of the idea) plus an estimated budget by Friday.
There’ll be a two-stage application process and those picked will receive funding and practical support from Artichoke in the run-up to the November 14-17 Lumiere Durham festival which is commissioned by Durham County Council and supported by Arts Council England.
For full details visit www.lumiere- festival.com/brilliant or email any questions to joanna.petkiewicz@ artichoke.uk.com
Brilliant adds a wonderful dimension to Lumiere. So often it is the simplest idea that has the greatest impact