A chariot in the sky: Lumiere festival of light in Durham honours Covid dead
One of the most peculiar monuments in the UK is about to get a little stranger when it is spectacularly lit up to be seen from as far as 20 miles away and accompanied by a blasting soundtrack including music by the 12th century mystic Hildegard of Bingen.
Penshaw Monument is a 20-metre replica of the ancient Greek temple of Hephaestus built by the Victorians on a hill near Sunderland.
It was intended to commemorate John Lambton, the first earl of Durham, a Whig politician whose nickname was Radical Jack. This weekend it elegantly commemorates the victims of Covid-19 as part of Lumiere in Durham, the UKs largest light festival.
The work, A Telling of Light, is by artists Elaine Buckholtz and Ian Winters and is a huge technical challenge involving about 140,000 separate points of light, in tribute to the UK death toll from coronavirus.
Hymn To The Big Wheel by Liz West at Ushaw Historic House. Photograph: Tom Banks/Lumiere 2021
The light show is accompanied by monastic music watched from a field near to the monument, a National Trust property on the border of County Durham.
The soundtrack includes music written by Hildegard, considered one of the first identifiable composers in the history of western music who spent most of her life in a hilltop monastery in the Rhineland.
Buckholtz said they were offering visitors a place to mourn but also to be inspired. Sometimes it looks like a chariot in the sky. It feels like its not reachable, but its there. For me it speaks to the relationship between life and death.
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