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Illuminated Carpet

Illuminated Carpet

Research Centre
Art and Design Research Centre

November 2008

Commissioned for ‘Enlightenment’ Durham international festival of Light. Illuminated Carpet is a light sculpture floating on the River wear

Illuminated Carpet is a sculpture commissioned for 'Enlightenment. International Festival of Light', Durham, UK, in 2008. The image of a Persian carpet drawn in light, appeared to float above the surface of the river, responding to the rippling current, and to cast its reflected image below. The work drew together strands of the city’s histories, evoking Durham’s past without directly mirroring its historic icons. Traditionally sculpture has weight and form, yet Illuminated Carpet challenged notions of sculpture’s physicality, appearing rather ad elegantly weightless, as in a suspension of disbelief, carpet of light floated above the surface of the river. The Festival faced both East and West; its remit required artists to explore the complex narrative of the city’s history. 

Illuminated Carpet refers to Durham’s cultural and industrial past. Carpets feature strongly in the industrial heritage of the city. Barnard Carpets, once prominent in the city, produced elaborate pattern books for exhibition containing extravagant and exotic floral designs. Durham’s University has influenced the shape and character of the city. The department for Middle Eastern and Islamic studies contains a specialist museum notable for its examples of Persian paintings and Mughal miniatures, depicting scenes of seated groups on exquisite carpets of stylised flowers. The research for the sculpture was undertaken therein. Illuminated Carpet intertwines the rose motif from both sources, while the memory of the rose gardens once common on the banks of the river was evoked.

Researchers involved

Julie Westerman - Senior Lecturer - Fine Art

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