The regional art hub that is Ushaw has been blessed with some incredible artists doing incredible work this year. My favourite piece has been Mat Collishaw’s ‘The Nerve Rack’, a new commission that explored themes of martyrdom and treason, worship and heresy, and featured a life-sized animatronic eagle. Imagine! It was a thoughtful, and truly arresting piece, but for sheer visual fireworks, it looks like Stuart Langley’s latest work is going to take some beating.
The Darlington-born artist, who is perhaps best known for his stained-glass cars at Durham’s Lumiere festival, has created 12 individual pieces of animated neon art and 12 digital projections, which were all inspired by Ushaw’s building and collections. Every piece will have a different theme and design, and each one will be installed in a window on the building’s striking façade.
Langley: “I’m loving this project because I’m a nosy person, so I get to explore Ushaw and find out about its history and all of the artefacts in the collection. The idea behind the installation is to create digital content for projects and neon artworks based on Ushaw itself, so we’re hoping to give people a glimpse into the vast array of culture and art of this place. I think that it will be quite an interesting installation for Ushaw, and quite fitting for them because all the content is being lifted out of what exists here already. Obviously, the stained glass is beautiful, but also some of the artefacts have been incredible. I got to view St Cuthbert’s Ring, and photograph it with pieces of neon for one of the projections. And just being able to get close to an object like that and integrate it into my artwork is amazing.”
The installation is part of Christmas at Ushaw, which this year will be bigger and better than ever before. It’s being unveiled at the popular annual Ushaw Christmas Tree Festival, which is being launched on Friday 29 November. This will include a display of over 100 trees under the theme ‘reuse and recycle’, with participants constructing their festive masterpieces from recyclable or waste materials, or from objects lying around the house.
If you’ve never visited beautiful Ushaw before then December is the perfect month to break your duck because there is plenty going on. As well as the aforementioned exhibition and festival there will be afternoons of Christmas poems, film screenings (with cream tea!), carol services and live music. Full details from their website, below.Ushaw College, County Durham, DH7 9RH. ushaw.org