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Hundreds of children from County Durham schools are starring in an innovative new artwork commissioned by Ushaw Historic House, Chapels and Gardens to celebrate Christmas

A lone star guided the three wise men to baby Jesus in the traditional Christmas Nativity.

Now, hundreds of County Durham school children are enjoying a starring role in a new festive art commission for Illuminating Ushaw: Land of Enchantment – one of the North East’s best-loved Christmas light trails.

Catching Stars is a co-created installation by celebrated County Durham light artists Mick Stephenson and Stuart Langley recreating the wonder of Christmas and the joy of gazing at starry skies.

The giant dome-shaped artwork is on display in the gardens of Ushaw’s 500-acre country estate near Durham City and can be viewed over three nights this coming weekend.

To celebrate sustainability, packs of birch wood stars were sent to nine local primary Schools (*see Notes to Editors for full list) for children to design and create a Christmas star expressing their hopes for the future.

Finished stars were varnished and now hang in Stephenson and Langley’s Catching Stars installation. Each one will be returned to the child who created it.

It is one of four bespoke artistic commissions and new creative partnerships for the third annual Illuminating Ushaw.

Lucy Jenkins, director of culture and heritage at Ushaw Historic House, said: “It’s wonderful to work alongside Stuart and Mick again to wow audiences and fill our visitors with wonder as part of Illuminating Ushaw: Land of Enchantment.

This creative partnership is especially pleasing because it’s a collaboration with local school children and carries powerful messages about sustainability, nature and hope for humanity.”

Durham-based Stephenson, said: “Illuminating Ushaw is a lovely community-focused event for the people of the North East and I’m delighted to be commissioned again, along with Stuart, to create an artwork that will make people stop, stare, explore their curiosity and experience the magic and enchantment of the night skies.”

A former roadie for English rock band Pink Floyd, Mick is a multi-award-winning light artist whose work has appeared six times at Lumiere Durham and London festivals, Enchanted Parks Gateshead, Staithes Light Festival, Kendal Calling and at light-art events in Germany and Switzerland.

Stuart Langley, from Hartlepool, is a regular contributor to events and exhibitions at Ushaw and has created large-scale works including stained glass windows in the estate woodland and turned its Georgian historic house into a neon-lit Christmas advent calendar.

He is the artist behind the UK's largest permanent light installation, 'Beating Heart Middlesbrough' and has exhibited at Toronto Light Festival, Nuit Blanche Brussels, iLight Singapore, Canary Wharf Winter and Summer Lights, Lumiere Durham and Leeds Light Night.

Illuminating Ushaw: Land of Enchantment is supported by headline sponsor Urban Base, one of North East England’s leading estate agencies and property managers.

There are only three opportunities left to view Catching Stars and experience Illuminating Ushaw: Land of Enchantment.

· Friday 16th, Saturday 17th & Sunday 18th December

Tickets cost from £10 to £12, booking is essential. Event timings are from 4.30pm to 6.30pm and the trail closes at 8pm


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