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Lumiere favourite Mysticète returns to make a splash at 10th anniversary edition

Published October 02, 2019 12.36pm

As excitement builds for the full programme announcement on October 17, Lumiere organisers have revealed the return of festival favourite Mysticète (the whale).

Whale 1

Mysticète, created by design agency Top'là and visual artist Catherine Garret, is returning to Lumiere in 2019 Picture: Matthew Andrews

It is the first of several popular returning artworks to be announced ahead of the festival, which is commissioned by the council and produced by arts charity Artichoke.

The mesmerising 3D projection of a Baleen whale emerging out of the water, created by design agency Top'là and visual artist Catherine Garret, was a much-loved feature of Lumiere Durham 2015. For the festival's 10th anniversary edition, happening from 14 to 17 November 2019, Mysticète will resurface on the River Wear at a new location north of Pennyferry Bridge.

Mysticète's remarkable lifelike animation by Domenico Spano is complemented by an evocative soundtrack by Laurent Frick. The artwork's environmental message, reminding visitors of the vulnerable beauty of nature and their duty to protect the earth's inhabitants, has only become more pertinent since the whale last appeared four years ago.

To find out more about Lumiere, visit the Lumiere 2019 website.


Catherine Garret said: "I have always loved the strength, grace and majesty of whales - I first imagined Mysticète as a ballet. To me it's important that feel we are a part of nature rather than separate from it, and that by taking care of the Earth and living things we are taking care of ourselves. In light of the environmental issues and natural disasters we are currently experiencing, Mysticète feels even more relevant than when it came to Lumiere in 2015. I want to create a bond between nature and everyone who sees the work, especially children. When you look at their spellbound faces, you realise they are the generation we are passing our world onto."

Video caption: Footage of an animated whale 'swimming' in the River Wear as part of Lumiere Durham 2015 by Mysticete. Top' La Design. 

Icon for pdf Lumiere Durham - Mysticète video transcript (PDF, 95.4kb)

A welcome return

Cllr Simon Henig, our Leader, said: "When people talk to us about their favourite Lumiere installations, the 'whale in the river' comes up time and time again. We are delighted Mysticète is returning to Durham for Lumiere's tenth anniversary edition. It will be a chance for the tens of thousands of people who admired it in 2015 to reconnect with it and for a whole new audience to marvel at its splendour."

Mysticète is sponsored by Milburngate, a long-time supporter of the festival, whose £150m mixed-use development on the banks of the River Wear has hosted a number of Lumiere installations in previous years.

Milburngate's joint venture partner Arlington Real Estate's managing director Allan Cook, said:"We've been keen supporters of Lumiere since day one and we're thrilled to be sponsoring one of my personal favourite installations, Catherine Garret's Mysticète, in the festival's 10th year. We know what a crowd pleaser it has been in the past and with increasing awareness of the fragile nature of their natural habitat I am sure it will be well received again. Sponsoring events like Lumiere is a great opportunity for businesses like ours to work with the arts and cultural community to help showcase Durham as a great place to live, work and visit."

Connecting with nature

Helen Marriage, artistic director of Artichoke, said: "Mysticète was such a hit with Lumiere audiences last time and I am so thrilled we're able to present it in Durham again as part of the 10th anniversary edition. Mysticète's magic is its ability to connect us with nature and show us a different way of looking at the world. I hope it will inspire our festival audience and be a fitting reminder of the preciousness of our world in this time of environmental crisis."

The full Lumiere programme, including additional festival favourites and exciting new works, will be announced on 17 October 2019.


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