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Light projection from the CODEX video and sound installation

Durham University will be bringing history to life and lighting up the North East in a new exhibition.

Inspired by the return of the Lindisfarne Gospels to the North East this autumn, Durham University has collaborated with award-winning light art company The Projection Studio to create CODEX, an inspiring visual and sound installation.

CODEX explores connections between Northumbria and the rest of the world, expressed through the art of manuscripts dating from between 600 and 800AD.

Strength through collaboration

Building on Durham University's research strengths in creativity, culture, and heritage, academics from different subjects brought insight from high-quality research in history, theology, archaeology, music and chemistry to inform the development of the artwork in collaboration with The Projection Studio.

Projected onto calfskin, which was used to make the vellum pages of the Lindisfarne Gospels, CODEX brings modern art media and traditional materials together.

Modern reflections and cutting edge analysis

Professor Giles Gasper from Durham University’s History Department said: “This is a fantastic project and one that we’re delighted to have been involved in.

“We’ll also be talking with the public at the different venues showing just how inspiring the Lindisfarne Gospels are.

“We will bring insights from a wide range of our experts in creativity, culture, and heritage. These include cutting edge analysis of the colours with modern science, the tradition of early medieval Gospel books stretching from Northumbria to Egypt, and the culture, including the food created when the Lindisfarne Gospels were produced.

“The projection tour takes us across the North East bringing modern reflections on this wonderful book, in modern settings, and to contemporary communities. It’s a real privilege to have been involved and we hope it delights and inspires in equal measure.”

Connecting to the history of the Lindisfarne Gospels

CODEX, which is open and free to all, will tour churches in the North East with a connection to the history of the Lindisfarne Gospels, and other manuscripts, from 22 September until 3 October.

Visitors will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the light and sound installation and also hear from Durham University academics, who will share their varied and unique perspectives on the relationship of Northumbrians with the world around them during the Lindisfarne Gospels period.

Venues include St Paul’s Church, Jarrow which will be welcoming children from local schools, St Mary & St Cuthbert's Church, Chester-le-Street, St Peter’s Church, Wearmouth and the Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin on Holy Island.

Blackfriars Restaurant in Newcastle will also host the sound and light spectacular accompanied by medieval canapes and talks from the show’s creators and experts including Professor Giles Gasper.

A creative powerhouse

During the period between 600 and 800AD, the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Northumbria was a creative powerhouse overflowing with a cultural fusion of Insular, Germanic, and Mediterranean art. With a thriving network of skilled people working in smithing and metalwork, chemistry, farming, and agriculture, as well as travelling across continents, they produced and obtained animal skins, pigments, gems and metals, to make exquisite bound books housing religious and practical works.

Each book - from the Lindisfarne Gospels to the world’s oldest intact bible, the Codex Amiatinus – is a unique reflection of the relationship of the Northumbrians with the world around them.

The Lindisfarne Gospels, one of the best-preserved manuscripts to survive from Anglo-Saxon England, is an illuminated manuscript gospel book created on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne around 715-720. Normally on display in the British Library, London, it is believed that the gospels were produced in honour of St Cuthbert, a former Prince Bishop of Durham.

A warm welcome for visitors

Revd Lesley Jones, Rector of the Parish of Jarrow and Simonside said: "It’s wonderful for us to be able to host CODEX at St Paul's Church in Jarrow, and to hear from experts on the twin monastery of Jarrow and Wearmouth and the Venerable Bede, who lived and worked here. I hope people take this opportunity to enjoy this space and see the artwork in situ - I can assure them a warm welcome awaits."

A full list of venues, dates, times and speakers can be found on the event page.

CODEX is part of Lindisfarne Gospels 2022 - a programme of events inspired by the display of the Lindisfarne Gospels in the North East in autumn 2022. On loan from the British Library, the spectacular manuscript will take centre stage in an exhibition at the Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne from 17 September – 3 December 2022.

Find out more

Lindisfarne Gospels 2022  

The Lindisfarne Gospels will be on display at Newcastle’s Laing Art Gallery from 17 September to 3 December 2022, on loan from the British Library. This will be the first time the ancient book, the most spectacular manuscript to survive from Anglo-Saxon England, has been displayed in the city since 2000 and its first showing in the region since the major exhibition in Durham in 2013. 

The Lindisfarne Gospels will feature in an exhibition about its meaning in the world today and exploring its relationship with themes of personal, regional, and national identity. There will also be a variety of community and school events across the North East and working with high-profile artists the Gospels will be reimagined for a 21st-century audience. Throughout 2022 attractions across the North East are hosting events inspired by the Lindisfarne Gospels in celebration of its visit to the region. Find out more about the full programme