LIGHT at the end of the tunnel – Chris Levine’s art installation welcomes visitors back to Durham Cathedral
27 May 2021
At long last visitors to Durham Cathedral will be able to experience Chris Levine’s immersive art installation, LIGHT. The eagerly anticipated switch on takes place Saturday 29th May, more than a year after it was installed in the Cathedral’s 12th century Galilee Chapel. The understandable delay was caused by the Covid pandemic and subsequent series of national lockdowns. This stunning artwork is expected to generate much interest and be a highlight of a visit to the cathedral this summer. Significantly, LIGHT marks the start of a new visual arts programme at Durham Cathedral, with more excitement to come.
Durham Cathedral welcomes all as pilgrims. Visitors will experience LIGHT at the start of their visit, virtually bathing in light, symbolic of the medieval tradition of foot washing as pilgrims arrive at their destination. LIGHT was commissioned in 2010 by the Genesis Foundation for Holy Trinity Church, London with critical acclaim. It has been adapted especially for Durham Cathedral.
LIGHT features a matrix of lasers directed through a crystal crucifix creating a wash of light. A blipvert appears in the peripheral vision of viewers revealing a flighting image of St Cuthbert’s Cross. Cuthbert’s pectoral cross is considered one of the great treasures of its time and is on display in the cathedral’s museum which reopens in June.
Chris Levine, creator of LIGHT says, “LIGHT draws the viewer into the present moment, the now. It is meditative art to engage and heighten the senses, unashamedly contemporary, yet confidently at home in the historic Galilee Chapel of Durham Cathedral. It gently bathes visitors in light, creating a welcoming space, so that pilgrims who have journeyed can relax and decompress. LIGHT is designed to induce a meditative state, an expansive realm between thought and experience where we can recalibrate, harmonise our senses and discover who we really are. I am not religious but am deeply spiritual. I am humbled to have my work in Durham Cathedral.”
LIGHT is accompanied by a soundtrack of sacred choral music in recordings by The Sixteen, conducted by the ensemble’s founder Harry Christophers. It includes Among Angels by Durham-born composer Will Todd and other distinguished contemporary composers. Listen to the soundtrack.
The Very Reverend Andrew Tremlett, Dean of Durham, says, “I am heartened that after such a difficult year, filled with loss and isolation, we are finally able to share this immersive and deeply powerful installation. It provides an opportunity for renewal as we in the North East of England come to terms with what we have been through. As we reflect and then celebrate our resilience, LIGHT offers hope.”
LIGHT has been made possible through the generous support of the Friends of Durham Cathedral and the Genesis Foundation.
John Studzinski, founder and chairman of the Genesis Foundation, says, “The Foundation is delighted and honoured to bring Chris Levine’s LIGHT to the spectacular and apt setting of Durham Cathedral. We are equally delighted that LIGHT’s impact will be heightened by music that was also originally commissioned by the Foundation. ‘Art and faith’ is a recurring theme as we nurture the work of a diversity of artists across different genres. In our 20th anniversary year, it is satisfying to know that, particularly in partnership with Harry Christophers and The Sixteen and composers such as Will Todd, the Genesis Foundation has established itself as the UK’s foremost commissioner of sacred music.”
Michael Galloway, Chairman of the Friends of Durham Cathedral says, “We are delighted to sponsor such a stimulating artwork. We hope that visitors to the cathedral during this time arrive as pilgrims and leave as Friends.”
LIGHT is the beginning of a new visual arts programme at Durham Cathedral created with support from Arts and Heritage. It is also part of a major programme of activity across all cathedrals brought together by the Association of English Cathedrals as ‘Discover Pilgrimage, Discover Cathedrals’.
Durham Cathedral reopened to visitors on Monday 17th May. For information about opening hours and everything needed to plan a visit, see www.durhamcathedral.co.uk Information about pilgrimage routes that centre on Durham Cathedral can be found at www.northernsaints.com