Lumiere, the light festival which after 2 years of planning and a £million+ big budget, became one of the special highlights of the year long UK City of Culture. It was quite the spectacular success for Derry|Londonderry with an estimated, 179,000 visitors over the 4 night festival.
The festival, organised by Artichoke transformed the UK City of Culture 2013 into a giant outdoor art gallery full of colour, lights and stories.
We travelled up as part of an NITB media group on Thursday lunchtime to begin our Legenderry tour in a City we hadn’t been to in 8 years.
What a roadtrip!
The City was buzzing even on the first night of Lumiere, and by the Saturday night we hear the queues stretched all the way down past Queens Quay and Airvag’s Symphonie Conique as thousands waited to cross the Peace Bridge to Ebrington, where Ocubo’s children’s fantasy tale Twice Upon a Time was projected onto the clock tower (one of many highlights!)
We toured a number of light installations and were treated to a City Walls tour by the passionate and superbly charismatic Martin McCrossan Tours.
With seventeen separate installations to visit in locations all over the city, we explored and re-discovered Derry~Londonderry. From the walls you could see Cleary-Connolly’s interactive Change Your Stripes in the Bogside as it took on different shapes and forms as people of all ages ran and danced in front of it.
Further along at the Gasyard, Ron Haseleden’s strings of blinking lights and early fairground music for Fête created a haunting vision of times gone by.
In the Fountain, children and young people clambered over Daan Roosegarde’s Marbles, large moulded shapes that changed colour the more people touched and moved around them.
Further along the Walls we stopped at The Empty Plinth, a powerful beam of light projecting skywards, and the wonderful and fun Neon Dogs in the Walker Courtyard by Deepa Mann-Kler.
Deepa also created the giant neon sign celebrating the Undertones’ famous song Teenage Kicks on the roof of the BT Exchange building.
We met Deepa later on our tour and she briefly talked about her 2 contributions to Lumiere. Like the rest of us she was walking round the City enjoying the amazing atmosphere.
Off the wall and into the City centre, we headed to the Diamond for Novak’s stunning animation Voyage for Austins Department Store which drew applause from the crowd after each cycle.
Down to our final stop at Guildhall square, Public Projection for Derry~Londonderry by Polish artist, Krzysztof Wodiczko, provided serious food for thought. The Harvard-based artist recorded the stories of a cross-section of local people. Their voices were broadcast from a converted ambulance, whilst projecting their words onto the walls of the Guildhall, as well as onto the monument at Free Derry Corner and the Verbal Arts Centre.
And that ended our Lumiere Legenderry tour. It’s a night we won’t ever forget, a night when we realised that Derry|Londonderry needed added to the list of Cities we needed to revisit in 2014