Audience favourite Mysticète returns to make a splash at Lumiere

Posted 09/30/2019


Ahead of the full programme announcement on the 17th October, we’re delighted to reveal that Mysticète by Top’là Design and Catherine Garret will be reappearing in the River Wear as part of Lumiere Durham. 


Whale's finn rising from the water.

Mysticète by Top’là Design, Lumiere Durham 2015. Photo by Matthew Andrews


A fantastical flashback to Lumiere Durham 2015

Mysticète, a 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 14th to 17th November 2019, the artwork 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.


Mysticète, Top’là Design / Catherine Garret, Lumiere Durham 2015. Photo by Matthew Andrews

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.”

Catherine Garret, Top’là Design's Artistic Director

Generously supported by Milburngate

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.

Mysticète, Top’là Design / Catherine Garret, Lumiere Durham 2015. Photo by Matthew Andrews

“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.”

Allan Cook, Arlington Real Estate's managing director and Milburngate joint venture partner

Mysticète was a huge hit at Lumiere in 2015 and we’re thrilled to be bringing it back to Durham as part of the 10th anniversary edition of the festival this November. Mysticète’s magic lies in its ability show us a different way of looking at the world, one which offers a reminder of the preciousness of the natural world in this time of environmental crisis.

Lumiere makes a spectacular return to Durham from 14th until 17th November 2019 to illuminate the city with past festival favourites and exciting new works by local and international artists. The full festival programme will be announced on 17th October.

As always, Lumiere will be completely free to visit. A ticketing system will be in place to access the central peninsula area of Durham during the peak hours between 4.30pm and 7.30pm only. Remember, you can visit anywhere else in the festival at any time. Everyone will be able to enter the city centre without a ticket once the ticketed period is over, but it will be busy and you may have to queue.

Two thirds of the artworks, including some of the most spectacular installations, will be located outside the city centre area and can be visited without a ticket at any time between 4.30pm and 11pm. Everyone will be able to enter the city centre without a ticket once the ticketed period is over.

Free peak hour tickets will be available from 28th October through the Lumiere website and a number of locations around Durham.