Lightlab 2023

Lightlab 2023

Lightlab Open Call 2023

An Artist Development opportunity provided by Durham County Council (Lumiere), Lightpool (Blackpool) and Wigan Council (Light Night Wigan & Leigh).

Open Call - Artists Development

Durham County Council, Blackpool Illuminations and Wigan Council are delighted to announce an incredible opportunity for artists living and/or working in close proximity to the North East, Blackpool and Wigan Borough. The programme aims to encourage the development of high-quality light art with artists from a diverse range of backgrounds who may have never worked with light before.

This skills development programme is aimed at adult artists who are motivated and inspired to develop their practice towards creating work that could be commissioned by light art festivals and for exhibition in a gallery context, including Lightpool Festival, Lumiere Durham the UK’s light art biennial and Light Night Wigan & Leigh. 

Artists will be supported by sector specialists to develop their ideas and gain knowledge on making and touring light art in festival and gallery contexts. Artists participating will gain practical experience and skills they can build on.

The Opportunity

 Up to 10 artists will be selected to take part.

  • 25th and 26th October 2023
    • 2 day visit to Blackpool
    • Inspiration tour of Lightworks, the home of Blackpool Illuminations
    • Visit to Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool – a contemporary art gallery commissioning, curating and collecting light based art.
    • Masterclasses and talks where cohort meet established artists/producers working in the light festival field
    • Guidance on how to complete a risk assessment and method statement to an acceptable standard.
    • Understanding the light festival industry and what commissioners are looking for.
    • Insight into curating light exhibitions, and challenges of installing different kinds of work.
    • Basic budgeting
    • Escorted visit to Lightpool Festival
    • Accommodation provided 25th and 26th October 2023
  • At the Blackpool visit, all artists will be invited to develop a design to be considered for further R&D
    • 17-18 November 2023
    • 2 day visit to Durham
    • Presentation of artists R&D designs including feedback from panel
    • Presentations by established artists :
    • “The Artists Journey” tbc Ronan Devlin
    • “Concept to Creation; the development process” Stu Langley
    • “Collaborative working with other professionals and other media” Gloria Ronchi
    • “Standing out from the crowd; tips on winning commissions” Mick Stephenson
    • Escorted visit to Lumiere Durham
    • Artist presentation to be considered for R&D development fee
    • Accommodation provided Friday, 17 November
  • Each artist will receive £300 Artist Honorarium; accommodation costs on the dates stated is covered by the organisers.
  • 6 Artists will be selected to develop their design and receive a £1,500 fee each and mentoring support.
  • Participants are encouraged to make a photo diary to record points of inspiration. 
  • Post Lightlab there would be a session to reflect on learning and signpost further learning and useful connections.

Learning Outcomes

Expected learning outcomes are:

  • Understanding of professional standards within context of light art. This not only reflects excellence of concept and build quality, but also what paperwork is essential.
  • Understanding how to complete a risk assessment and method statement to an acceptable standard.
  • Having clearer understanding of challenges and opportunities when making this kind of work.
  • Understanding the light festival industry and what commissioners are looking for.
  • Understanding where to find out more about important aspects of creating work in this context, like electrical safety.
  • Understanding basic budgeting.
  • Being inspired to continue their learning and skills development beyond the end of the programme to make work of high quality on their own.

Selection Process

Selection of applicants will be made by the LightLab team (Durham County Council, Lightpool, Wigan Council) and a representative from the Light Up The North Network (LUTN).  Artists will be selected on the following criteria:

  • Competency to develop excellent work.
  • Capacity to participate fully in the Lightlab opportunities.
  • To develop then deliver R&D work according to the timeframe.
  • Openness to collaborate, commitment to a sense of teamwork.
  • They live or work in the North East, Blackpool, Wigan
  • They are over 18.

How To Apply

Proposals are welcomed from artists working in all types of contemporary visual art practice, including photography, new media, fine art, artists’ moving image, sculpture, crafts, design, site-specific, socially engaged and interdisciplinary practices. We are accepting proposals from artists at early stages of their light art development and are particularly interested in artists who want to experiment, innovate and extend their practice.

Shortlisted artists will engage in an online conversation with the Lightlab team to explore their aspirations for this residency, and what other support may be needed and available.

We want to make sure that our opportunities are accessible to everyone. All artists are actively encouraged to apply and if any aspect of the application process presents accessibility issues for you please contact us.

Proposals should be submitted to:

Deadline for applications: 17:00, Monday 10 July 2023

Please include a short statement on your current practice with up to 5 images of your work, and a simple outline of what you want to learn if you were to be offered the residency. Applications can be made in either of the following (only submit 1):

Written text applications – Please submit a Word document or PDF of no more than 4 pages

Video submission – Please submit a brief video, no longer than three minutes

Audio submission – Please submit a brief audio mp3, no longer than three minutes

Helpful prompts/points to consider when applying

  • A simple outline, telling us what you would like to achieve through this programme, artistically and in terms of your development as an artist.
  • A statement describing your practice.
  • A selection of images such as previous or proposed artwork ideas most relevant to this opportunity
  • Contact information.
  • Links to your or other relevant website/ and social media

Your privacy and trust are important to us. We will comply with data law, and your personal data will not be shared with anyone and will only be used by the Lightlab selection team to shortlist the proposals.


We want to make sure that our opportunities are accessible for everyone. All artists are actively encouraged to apply and if any aspect of the application process presents accessibility issues for you please contact

Applications are also welcomed from artists who are seeking to adapt their practice or return to making work after a period away, including to care for others.

Key Dates

  • Closing date to submit expressions of interest:  Monday 10 July 5pm
  • Participants selection process e.g. online conversation: w/c Monday 24 July 
  • Selected participants notified: Monday 7 August 
  • Lightpool Festival Friday 20 October to Saturday 28 October
  • Blackpool visit Thursday 26th and Fri 27th October
  • Lumiere Durham Thursday 16 November to Sunday 19 November
  • Light Night Wigan & Leigh Thursday 16 November to Saturday 18 November
  • Lumiere Durham visit: Friday 17 and Saturday 18 November
  • R&D Artwork initial ideas submitted by: 17 November
  • Successful R&D Artists announced w/c 27 November

Previous Lightlab artist comments

“The light lab trip was an amazing and inspiring opportunity to be immersed in the world of light art for two days.”

“This two-day trip to the home of Light Art was to – excuse the pun – the highlight of my year.”

“Attending Lightlab has enabled me to establish stronger relationships with local artists, and an opportunity to explore and understand their work.”

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