Glow Festival Newcastle Gateshead 2007

Festivals of light had become a popular means of fostering a sense of dynamism during the 90s. Light acts as a beacon, something that grabs the attention of an audience unfamiliar with contemporary art. The immediacy of light offers an approachable way into appreciating creativity that may otherwise be considered opaque and elitist.

Gateshead Millennium Bridge 2007
Gateshead Millennium Bridge lighting by Lothar Götz 2007

The Newcastle Gateshead Initiative was to illuminate the urban heart of the region in an imaginative way, turning it into a winter attraction for tourists and local people

Art Office commissioned a series light works by an international selection of artists for the Glow 07 Festival Newcastle Gateshead. The artists that led the programme were Susan Collins and Lothar Götz. Contributors included Tanya Meditzky, Tod Hanson, Zöe Walker, Neil Bromwich, Nayan Kulkarni, Lulu Quinn, Miles Thurlow, Cath Campbell, Edwin Li and Jordan McKenzie.

Light had been the subject of several festivals or city-wide exhibitions in Glasgow, Berlin, London and Lyon during this period, so the project had creative momentum in that similar projects had been carried out in other locations. Light can be seen as an embodiment for hope and renewal, and was a frequent ‘go to’ among city authorities looking for the means of rejuvenating interest in formerly run down districts of a city. Its of the moment appeal combined with the advent of more easily accessed and inexpensive led technology made light an attractive theme for a festival.

Susan Collins, Chaser 2007
Tyne Bridge Tower Susan Collins, Chaser 2007
Northern Stage, Theatre Royal
Northern Stage exterior lighting by Lothar Götz

Susan Collins transformed the top windows of the Tyne Bridge Tower in Gateshead into a rapidly changing light circuit of intense colour sequenced to give the impression of movement. Titled Chaser the piece was visible across the river Tyne from both Newcastle and Gateshead, the animation continually changed as if chasing the colours around the building as the colours shifted from one to another, in a repeating cycle. Technical support and installation was by Stage Electrics.

Lothar Götz is a painter of colour field paintings, he takes geometric forms and paints them directly onto a surface using the contrasting graphic shapes to break down the conventions of architectural space. The geometry of his vibrant colour selections alter how the viewer perceives distance and relative proximities. His paintings change our perception of any given space. For Glow07, Götz left the paint at home and used existing light sources on key buildings within a few city blocks, while adding some of his own light sources, he encouraged colour associations with those he found in situ. The result was subtle and mesmeric.

The final work was titled Himmelblau/Crimson, (himmelblau translates as skyblue). Götz choreographed different lighting sources using selected surfaces of the buildings and structures of the city – radically altering their appearance by introducing his colour palette. Sites included: Baltic, Gateshead Millennium Bridge, Gateshead’s famous multi-storey car park and Old Town Hall, King Edward VII Bridge, Cale Cross House in Newcastle, along with Newcastle College and Northern Stage and the Theatre Royal.

Photography of Himmelblau/Crimson by Lothar Götz, Newcastle Gateshead
Photography of Chaser 2007 by Susan Collins