Posted 07/19/2023

The UK premiere of an artwork by Ai Weiwei incorporating 61 chandeliers to exhibit in Durham Cathedral as part of this year’s light art biennial

We’re delighted to announce the first five world-renowned artists who will exhibit their work at this year’s event, which is free for everyone to attend and will take place in Durham from the 16 – 19 November 2023. For four nights only, the city will be transformed into a nocturnal art experience with spectacular light installations by more than 30 artists including Ai Weiwei, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Chila Burman, Yinka Ilori and Daniel Canogar.

Fourteen years after Lumiere debuted in Durham, and more than one million visitors later, it is now the UK’s first light art biennial, a global event with major artists from all over the world exhibiting their artwork completely free for the public. Produced by leading arts producers Artichoke, and commissioned by Durham County Council, with additional support from Arts Council England and Durham University and a raft of further supporters, this beautiful medieval city will undergo an incredible re-imagining, with more than 30 artworks made with light exhibited on its buildings, streets and waterways.

Ai Weiwei’s extraordinary work incorporating 61 antique chandeliers, Illuminated Bottle Rack, will be installed in Durham Cathedral’s stunning Chapter House. First created by the acclaimed Chinese artist in 2018, it will be the first time this intricate piece will have been shown in the UK. The immense structure was inspired by Marcel Duchamp’s readymade, Bottle Rack, and uses the ordinary object of an enormous, upside-down bottle rack as its chandelier branches.

Another UK first will be Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s Pulse Topology. First shown in New York, Basel and San Francisco, this colossal immersive artwork by the Quebec-based Mexican artist will transform the nave of Durham Cathedral into the pulsating heart of Lumiere. Composed of thousands of light bulbs, each will be activated by the recorded heartbeat of visitors, contributing to a glimmering, connective array through which audiences will walk.

One of the UK’s leading visual artists, Chila Burman MBE, will be exhibiting a joyful, new commission at Lumiere this year. Hurts So Good will take over Durham Market Place with a selection of new and existing signature neon-light artworks that celebrates her rich Hindu-Punjabi heritage and speaks to the pressing theme of climate change. The interruption of daily life with art that stops you in your tracks is a key component of Lumiere.

November may be a time when the natural light starts to fade, but this won’t be a problem where the gleaming artwork by Yinka Ilori MBE is installed. The British artist is known for his use of bright colours. Originally produced to reflect his native London, In Plants We Trust is the artist’s shrine to plants that thrive in urban settings.

Spanish artist Daniel Canogar will illuminate the façade of Durham University’s Liebeskind-designed Ogden Centre, home to the Institute for Computational Cosmology. This new commission, Universal Loom, will be a textile-like animated projection inspired by string theory, interpreting the woven nature of space and time. It will be created with astronomical data provided by the ground-breaking work conducted by the University’s physicists led by Professor Carlos Frenk from the Institute for Computational Cosmology, Department of Physics.

These light artworks will join many more by international and UK artists as part of the new, thought-provoking programme that will transform the city’s buildings, bridges and waterways. The full Lumiere programme will be announced in autumn and peak-time tickets will be released on Wednesday 4 October. Find out more about tickets in our FAQs.


Lumiere – the UK’s first light art biennial – takes to the streets this November, transforming the stunning medieval city of Durham into a magnificent outdoor art exhibition. Eagerly anticipated and free to attend as always, Artichoke is always determined to reimagine and reinvent something familiar into something new. We’ve worked with the people of Durham for fifteen years and constantly marvel at the city’s willingness to facilitate the wildest imaginings of our cohort of artists. This year, the programme is even more ambitious with the work of some of the world’s greatest contemporary artists finding its place amongst the beautiful architecture of Lumiere’s home city.

As always, artists sit at the heart of our work. Their ability to transform the everyday, to make us look with wonder at the truth that lies just below the surface of our complicated lives, their messages of hope for a different future and reflections on past lives – this is the important core of this year’s Lumiere programme and the centre of Artichoke’s work.

Artistic Director of Artichoke, Helen Marriage

Lumiere has led the way in light art since 2009, becoming the biggest and most prestigious light art event in the country. The biennial brings artists of the highest calibre to the North East, and is a source of inspiration for countless other light art events.

As the UK’s light art biennial, Lumiere has put County Durham on the map and is a shining example of how culture enhances the vibrancy of our communities. The programme reflects the spirit of creativity and innovation on which we pride ourselves here in County Durham and the North East and I can’t wait to share this unforgettable experience with our residents and visitors.

Cllr Amanda Hopgood, Leader of Durham County Council

For over a decade Lumiere has taken over Durham Cathedral and the city’s buildings and bridges and turned them into light installations that captivate both local people and visitors. The calibre of artists is unmatched and this year’s programme includes some major British and international artists with more than 35 artworks, including the first opportunity to see some of them in the UK. I’m delighted that the Arts Council supports this ambitious and ground-breaking free event and I’m sure this year’s Lumiere, the UK’s light art biennial, will not disappoint.

Sir Nicholas Serota, CH, Chair of Arts Council England

We are excited that Lumiere will once again return to the City in November, and pleased to be supporting this as a major partner. It is great to see that world-class research taking place here at Durham University is inspiring the art that will be exhibited at Lumiere 2023 – in particular Daniel Canogar and his piece Universal Loom.

We are also glad to be able to host several installations on our buildings and land, enabling visitors to explore the city of Durham and enjoy Lumiere. We very much look forward to welcoming visitors in November and being part of this tremendous event.

Professor Karen O’Brien, Vice-Chancellor and Warden of Durham University


Fundraising for the 2023 edition is underway. Become a sponsor to help us bring spectacular light installations and an engaging year-round Learning & Participation programme to Durham.

Find out more about how to get involved by contacting Artichoke’s Development Director: [email protected]

A central pillar of The Culture County, the long-term creative regeneration strategy born out of the Durham 2025 UK City of Culture campaign, Lumiere is produced by Artichoke and commissioned by Durham County Council with support from Arts Council England and Durham University and a raft of funders and supporters.

To be the first to know what’s happening, sign up to the Lumiere subscribers list.

Follow @ArtichokeTrust on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and TikTok and @LumiereDurham on Twitter for a glimpse behind-the-scenes.


Image credits:

  1. Illuminated Bottle Rack © Ai Weiwei; Courtesy of Ai Weiwei Studio
  2. Pulse Topology, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Basel, Switzerland, 2021
  3. Ice Cream Van, Chila Burman
  4. In Plants We Trust, Mayfair, London, UK, Yinka Ilori, 2021
  5. Universal Loom (rendering), Daniel Canogar, 2023