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Night time image from Lumiere 2021 showing the Ogden building with colourful abstract images projected onto one side

This week sees the return of Lumiere, the dazzling light art event hosted in Durham bi-annually. This year’s event includes three installations drawing on some of our ground-breaking research.

Lighting up the origins of the Universe

Universal Loom by Spanish artist Daniel Canogar will illuminate the façade of the Ogden Centre, home to our Institute for Computational Cosmology (ICC).

Inspired by string theory, our very own Professor Carlos Frenk has worked with the artists to share his research into the cosmos and the origins of the universe.

This expertise and insight, along with astronomical data from the ICC’s research, has helped develop the artwork to be premiered at Lumiere 2023.

Professor Frenk, the Ogden Professor of Fundamental Physics in our Department of Physics and founder and former director of the ICC, was recently elected to the Royal Society Council. He is passionate about engaging the public in scientific research.

Speaking about his involvement in Lumiere 2023, Professor Frenk said:

“Sharing our research in imaginative, novel ways is the perfect way to transmit the excitement of science to the public and to inspire the next generation of scientists. 

“An event like Lumiere brings our research to an audience of thousands and shows them that science can be visually beautiful and captivating.

Meanings of justice

Also bringing their world-leading expertise to Lumiere 2023 is Nicole Westmarland, Professor of Criminology in our Department of Sociology and renowned for her work on victim-survivors and perpetrators of domestic violence and abuse.

Nicole, who is also Director of the Durham Centre for Research into Violence and Abuse (CRiVA), has been involved in the piece On Blank Pages, by Spanish anonymous activist group Luzinterruptus, which explores the state of the UK justice system.

It collected attitudes from individuals, groups and organisations across England and Wales who have experience of the legal system, be it through work, jury service or lived experience.

These will be displayed in illuminated notebooks as part of the installation, whilst visitors can also add their own responses at the event.

Earlier this autumn Nicole facilitated sessions between the producers of Lumiere and sociology, criminology, social work and law students here are Durham. This gave them the unique opportunity to add their insights on the theme of justice to a powerful piece of art.

She has also been involved in the design of the questions that are part of the data gathering from individuals and groups, for the installation.

After Lumiere concludes, the anonymised information captured for this installation will be made available to Durham University (where participants have given consent) – giving our students and staff a unique data set to access and study.

Sustainability and light

The Durham Energy Institute (DEI) has been part of the team behind Diamond Garden, on display in the grounds of Durham Cathedral. This piece draws on the DEI’s expertise around energy use and sustainable energy solutions and ringing true to this ethos, is completely powered by solar, and made using rechargeable batteries and recycled materials.

The DEI and our Science Engagement Team have worked with partners OASES (Outdoor and Sustainability Education Specialists), Artichoke (the producers of Lumiere), Redhills Durham Miners Hall and artist, Mick Stephenson, to engage 120 young people from local schools around the themes of renewables and sustainability, together creating elements of the installation.

Other installations

Alongside installations inspired by our research, we are also hosting incredible art at St Mary’s College and on Palace Green.

St Mary’s welcomes Sacral, an installation by Italian artist Edoardo Tresoldi, on display for the first time in the UK.

Palace Green will become home to Liquid Geometry – an immersive series of three-dimensional projections created by Spanish artist Javier Riera.

Find out more:

Image details:

Image shows the Chronos artwork by Epsztein and Gross, on the façade of the Ogden Centre for Fundamental Physics, Lumiere 2021.