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County Durham secondary school students to write their words in light at Lumiere 2021

Published July 22, 2021 12.09pm


Young people from The Durham Federation school in Ushaw Moor will produce a major art installation at this year's Lumiere Festival in November.

Lumiere Article 12 1

Pupils at The Durham Federation School have been trying out neon making

Through an innovative and unusual learning project they will work with neon to light up their own words in a series of text light artworks called Article 12.

Twenty-five Year 9 students at The Durham Federation school are getting the chance to take part in neon making and creative writing workshops as part of an exciting new project to give young people a platform at this year's Lumiere festival.

Jess, 14, student at The Durham Federation said: "There is a lot of pressure on the younger generation, but we don't always feel we have a voice for people to hear us. I am excited to see my creative ideas put into action so other people can see them at Lumiere, and to get the chance to work with neon.

"I'm really proud of myself, and my friends, that we've got this opportunity to speak out and show other people what we're made of and what we can do."

Lumiere will take place from Thursday 18 - Sunday 21 November 2021. Latest updates can be found by following @artichoketrust | #LumiereDurham on social media. You can also find out more on the Lumiere Festival website.

A legacy of skills

Far more than the four-day festival, Lumiere, produced by Artichoke and commissioned by the council with support from Arts Council England and a raft of funders and supporters, has worked with more than 10,000 local people across County Durham since 2009, bringing communities together to take part in making artworks, and leaving a legacy of skills and newfound potential behind.

Creating opportunities

Cllr Amanda Hopgood, our Leader, said: "We want every young person in County Durham to understand the possibilities and opportunities open to them. One of the key reasons why we stage festivals such as Lumiere is that they allow our young people to take part in and experience a world-class cultural event on their doorstep, opening their eyes to careers they may never have considered before.

"It is also a driving factor behind our bid to be UK City of Culture 2025, as we anticipate increased opportunities for young people will be among the many social and economic benefits this status will bring to County Durham. As someone who grew up and went to school in County Durham, this is something particularly close to my heart.

"I am really excited to see what the pupils at The Durham Federation create as part of the Lumiere outreach programme. It's sure to be a festival highlight."

Giving young people a platform

Louise Dennison, Head of Learning & Participation at Artichoke, said: "Article 12 is a really exciting and important project for us to be producing this year as part of Lumiere. This project offers the opportunity to collaborate with young people in the local area, whose voices are not normally given such a big and wide-reaching platform. Neon is such a legendary form of light to be working with, and this is an opportunity to explore the science of neon, as well as the creative process of designing the light work itself. It is the first time Lumiere has worked with The Durham Federation and it's been great to work with this talented group of young people who have so many important things to say."

This project, supported by County Durham-based Atom Bank, is themed around Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The students will take part in a series of creative writing workshops and then make their chosen words and phrases into neon text artworks. The finished artworks will be shown alongside international artists at Lumiere before being returned to the school.

Challenge and change

Edward Twiddy, Chief Customer Office at Atom Bank said: "Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child confers on all children a right to be heard and recognises the ability of children to form their own views. It also places an obligation on us all to listen and take heed. And beyond extending respect and promoting self-expression amongst young people, we would all be well advised to listen up.

"Challenge and change will always come from what is new and vital, and with so much that needs to change it is key to hear what young people think and say. We're delighted to be supporting Year 9 at Durham Federation to get their words and their voices heard and seen in this year's Lumiere. Come along and see in lights what they have to say to us all."

Experimenting with words and neon

The Article 12 workshops delivered by Newcastle-based neon fabricators Neon Workshop collaborating with North East writer Lucie Brownlee started in June and will continue in September, when the students will have the opportunity to play and experiment with both words and neon and their final choices will be worked up into a design for neon text pieces. Neon Workshop, who fabricated the installation The Next Page for Lumiere 2019, which is now on display permanently in Millennium Place in Durham City, will consult with the young people on the design, including font and colour, and fabricate the artworks.

Writer and workshop facilitator, Lucie Brownlee said: "Kids feel disenfranchised when they don't have a voice and take to social media to get that across. I think words are so powerful, particularly when they are coaxed out of young people in the way we are working with them. Lumiere is such a key part of the North East calendar, it makes total sense for word-based art to be part of the programme at Lumiere."

A life-changing opportunity 

Laura Anderson, Year 9 teacher, The Durham Federation, said: "Having the opportunity to learn and participate in something that is so close is really important for our students. A lot of our students enjoy the Lumiere festival but have probably not thought or considered how the art got there: the design process. For them to be part of this is such a life-changing opportunity. It is giving them a wonderful insight into the opportunities that are out there.

Giving our students the ability to have a voice and to have a say in what they want to do is really fundamental in producing something that is inspirational and something that they can be really proud of when they visit Lumiere in November."

Article 12 has been match funded by County Durham Community Foundation through a scheme that gives an extra 50p for every £1 that businesses pledge to the Lumiere 2021 Learning and Participation programme.

Helping to make the vision a reality

Margaret Vaughan, Chief Operating Officer, County Durham Community Foundation, said: "We have been so pleased to offer match funding to the gifts that businesses have made to support this year's Lumiere. This has encouraged interest in the festival and helped corporate supporters to make their giving go even further. Our contribution will now help to fund the festival's Learning and Participation programme, which is about involving local people in the festival and helping their artistic vision become a reality. Seeing children and adults from all walks of life getting involved is what the festival is all about and will bring light and joy to our communities after a very tough year."

Imagination and innovation

Article 12 has received further support from grant giving body, The Ragdoll Foundation, which is dedicated to supporting the creation, appreciation and awareness of imaginative and innovative content that reflects the world from a child's point of view.

Katherine Wood, Chair, The Ragdoll Foundation said: "The Ragdoll Foundation looks for innovative, high quality arts engagement projects that put the voices and views of children and young people at the centre. So, we are delighted to be able to support Article 21 which we hope will have a lasting impact on the young people involved."