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Apollo 50: Hundreds turn out in Peterlee to see Apollo Pavilion in a new light as 50th anniversary celebrations lift off

Published March 26, 2019 11.04am


More than 1500 people experienced a taste of Lumiere in Peterlee over the weekend as Victor Pasmore's iconic Apollo Pavilion was transformed by light artists Mader Wiermann in the launch event of a year of celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of the landmark structure.

Apollo 50

The Apollo 50 light installation

Commissioned by us, Apollo 50 was produced by Artichoke, the UK's leading producer of art in the public realm.

Over two evenings, the pavilion facade was lit up by a video projection that mapped the structure's geometric contours, reflecting the moon landing that gave the pavilion its name, and celebrating the Bauhaus designs that were instrumental in its construction 50 years ago.

Visitors from across the county and further afield attended the event and were able both to watch from afar and to experience the installation more closely by walking underneath the pavilion.

More than 96 per cent of those taking part in an on-site survey rated the installation as 'excellent' or 'good.'

Many commented that the work brought the pavilion to life, as well as welcoming events like this to Peterlee.

Many others posted favourable reviews on social media.

"Loving all the kids running around casting their shadows under the pavilion like men on the moon," said one bystander.

"Absolutely stunning and jaw dropping. Love it. Has brought it to light in a different way," said another.

The event was attended by Ralf Teepe, head of culture and education at the embassy of the federal republic of Germany, which has supported the installation, and by John Pasmore, son of the artist, Victor Pasmore, who designed the pavilion.

Lift Off

The Apollo 50 celebrations this year also include the Apollo Lift Off Education project which kicked off at the weekend, supported by the Ragdoll Foundation.

Fifty students from East Durham College - creative industry learners, visited the pavilion site and attended sessions with the artists Mader Wiermann, Artichoke chief executive Helen Marriage and producer Louise Dennison, together with Karl Dixon, lecturer from Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

The brief will see the students creating an original piece of work over the next few months, supported by Artichoke producers, which will be shown as part of Lumiere 2019 in November.

Cllr Ossie Johnson, our Cabinet member for tourism, culture, leisure and rural issues, said: "The Apollo 50 light installation was a truly amazing visual experience and we are delighted that so many people came out and enjoyed it.

"This event has been a tremendous way to begin the celebrations of half a century of this unique structure and a really exciting part of our year of culture #Durham19, which is showcasing everything our county has to offer in terms of the arts and sport.

"We're really looking forward to the rest of the Apollo's 50 year celebrations which promise exciting opportunities for local young people to get involved in this year's tenth anniversary Lumiere Festival."

Slice of Lumiere

Helen Marriage, Artichoke chief executive said: "The response to Apollo 50 has been amazing, especially amongst the local Peterlee residents who came out to see the pavilion transformed by this slice of Lumiere on their doorstep.

"Just as important were the sessions we held with the students at East Durham College.

"It will be a first step for these young people on a potentially life-changing journey learning to produce and develop an original piece of light art which will be premiered at Lumiere later this year."

Katherine Wood, chair of the Ragdoll Foundation, said: "The trustees of the Ragdoll Foundation are pleased to support Artichoke Trust in this strategic project, which combines participation in a high profile arts festival with creative learning and skills transfer to support local young people.

"We are looking forward to hearing how the project develops and seeing the results at Lumiere Durham 2019."

To find out more about #Durham19, visit our year of culture webpage.

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