Audiences were wowed at Durham Cathedral last week as the dazzling sound and light installation, Life by Luxmuralis, was shown in the North East for the first time.
From 12 - 16 October, visitors experienced Durham Cathedral in a whole new light as from 6.45pm every evening, the cathedral was flooded with colourful light projections and immersive music.
The show was sold out from the first night with over 12,300 people visiting the cathedral during the five night run. This was the first time Life by Luxmuralis was shown in the North East, and earlier this week Durham Cathedral announced that artist collective Luxmuralis will return to the cathedral with a different show in October 2023.
Andrew Usher, Chief Assistant Officer of Visitor Experience and Enterprise at Durham Cathedral, says, “We’ve been blown away by the public response to Luxmuralis here in Durham. Where the installation has been shown in other cathedrals ticket sales are generally at around 60% sold on opening night. Here at Durham Cathedral we’d sold 98% of tickets as we opened the door on the first night and by the end of the evening all tickets had gone. We’re delighted that so many people got to experience the event this year and appreciate that due to its popularity not everyone who wanted a ticket was able to get one. With its return next year we’re already looking at how we can welcome more people to this highly sought after event.”
Those who did visit were keen to share their colourful videos and pictures on social media, with some describing the display as ‘fantastic’, ‘stunning’ and ‘immersive’, whilst others defined it as ‘calming’, ‘dreamlike’ and ‘emotional’.
The financial success of the event will help Durham Cathedral to be resilient in the face of high costs this coming winter, supporting the care of the cathedral buildings and enabling the team to continue to provide a warm welcome to visitors. The cathedral receives no statutory funding and relies on the support of those who visit for prayer, worship, events or heritage to continue its mission and ministry.
Andrew continues, “We know how much visitors love visiting the cathedral after-dark and with affordable ticket prices we saw new visitors coming to experience this spectacular show and regular visitors returning to see the cathedral in a new light. As well as the installation which took people on an immersive journey through earth, sea and sky, we also temporarily removed the pews and brought people into the Nave from a different route, giving visitors a different perspective and a new ‘wow’ moment in the cathedral.”
The artwork's intention was to bring the natural world to life and give people an opportunity to pause and reflect on their responsibility to protect it. The projections are based on the colours of cathedrals around the country and the stories of the Bible, ensuring that the experience is reflective of the place of worship in which it is shown.
Luxmuralis forms part of Durham Cathedral’s visual arts programme, which aims to bring different experiences into the cathedral for the enjoyment and interest of the diverse audiences in County Durham and from around the UK.
To find out more about events and services at the cathedral visit www.durhamcathedral.co.uk
A Spectacular Son-et-Lumiere experience produced by Artistic Collaboration ‘Luxmuralis’
About the Artistic team and production:
Artist Peter Walker and Composer David Harper are an Artistic collaboration called ‘Luxmuralis’. Through Son-et-Lumiere installation and sound art pieces they transform and reinterpret the sense of place and space creatively helping members of the public to take a physical and emotional journey to identify with the subject and message of the artwork.
Examples of the many reactions and responses from Durham Cathedral:
"What a fantastic place. This light show and perfect music were absolutely brilliant and sometimes emotional. Highly recommended."
"It is stunning. I was blown away"
"It was amazing and fantastic, I needed it. So calming and also emotional I will be back"
"It was tremendously innovative and totally dreamlike."
"Luxmuralis was a fabulous experience and really showcased the beauty of this wonderful cathedral. Whole event was really well organised and the cathedral stewards were helpful and very friendly"
What is it and why?
Sound and light art is projected onto architectural features transforming and enveloping the space. Visitors will walk through and view individual light and sound art installations digitally and artistically created by artistic collaboration ‘Luxmuralis’ which highlight the architectural features of the space. Viewers are immersed in the soundscapes they hear and walk through the projections that are all around them on an explorative journey through the artworks.
The artwork ‘Life’ is designed to enable people to explore and contemplate their own personal journeys and reflect upon life on todays planet that occurs in a single 24 hour period. The viewer is taken from Sunrise to Sunset, journeying through the beauty of planet earth, witnessing the sun, the oceans and the clouds. The outside reflected inside the majestic sacred space giving the viewer moments of awe and wonder.
The artwork enables contemplation on our human existence in the creation of our planet and our human impact upon it, reflecting ecology and the beauty of the world around us. The sounds and textures of humanity, extinction and time is portrayed.
Sounds heard are musical pieces composed by David Harper who has used within his works recorded anthropological soundtracks from collections of the Pitt Rivers Museum. The artwork and visual imagery is created by Artist Peter Walker who has interpreted collections from the Natural History Museum Oxford and the William Morris Museum, depicting nature and artistically highlighting the Cathedrals own architectural design features and brings the outside world inside.
Durham Cathedral is a Christian Church of the Anglican Communion, the shrine of St Cuthbert, the seat of the Bishop of Durham and a focus of pilgrimage and spirituality in North East England. It inhabits a treasured sacred space set in the natural and human landscape of the World Heritage Site.
Its purpose is to worship God, share the gospel of Jesus Christ, welcome all who come, celebrate and pass on its rich Christian heritage and discover its place in God’s creation.
The building of Durham Cathedral commenced in 1093 and took around 40 years to complete. It replaced a Saxon cathedral built by the Community of St Cuthbert after it arrived in Durham in 995 following its flight from the ‘Holy Island’ of Lindisfarne 80 miles North of Durham. The body of St Cuthbert is enshrined in the Feretory at Durham Cathedral and the Tomb of the Venerable Bede is in The Galilee Chapel. The Cathedral existed as a Benedictine Monastery until 1539 when it became one of the Church of England’s major Cathedrals.
It continues to be a focus for pilgrimage and pre-covid saw around 750,000 visitors each year from all over the world. The Cathedral has internationally important collections of artefacts, manuscripts and books that include St Cuthbert’s coffin and his pectoral cross; superb examples of Anglo-Saxon craftsmanship. Durham Cathedral is often referred to as the best example of Romanesque architecture in Europe, or as American writer Bill Bryson put it, ‘the best Cathedral on planet earth.’
Since its construction Durham Cathedral has been alive with people and a centre for community activity. The Cathedral is home to a vibrant worshipping community and continues to celebrate the English Choral Tradition with sung services by its highly acclaimed Choir. As a new century unfolds Durham Cathedral aspires to enrich the many different ways in which it engages with people and organisations. It is cherished equally by those who live, work and study in the region and by those who come to visit.
Find more information at www.durhamcathedral.co.uk