SCHOOLCHILDREN have been helping an artist to create a dramatic light installation that will turn a regional arts hub into a living ‘advent calendar’.

Stuart Langley, who lives in Hartlepool, has announced his next piece will be a light installation that brings colour and life to the windows of historic Ushaw, near Durham.

The Darlington-born artist, who is perhaps best known for his stained-glass cars at Durham’s Lumiere festival, will create 24 windows – a mixture of neon and projections – from Ushaw’s building and collections.

Every piece will have a different theme and design, and each one will be digitally projected from a window in the building’s striking façade.

Stuart said: “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 projection 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.

“Just being able to get close to an object like that and integrate it into my artwork is amazing. I feel very fortunate to be taking part.”

Pupils from Esh Church of England Primary School joined Stuart at Ushaw to make their own artworks.

Under his guidance, the creative youngsters took photos all over the historical building, digitally added neon effects and filters, and turned their pictures into kaleidoscope-like animations.

Stuart will now review the children’s submissions, select his favourites, and incorporate those into his installation. He said: “It’s nice to be working with kids, you get another perspective on how to create content. They are very honest, and they’ll tell you if something’s rubbish, or if they think something’s amazing.”

Lucy Jenkins, Ushaw’s Cultural and Heritage Manager, said: “We’re really excited to have Stuart in residence, working to produce a really spectacular light installation for Christmas at Ushaw.

“It’s great that we’ve got local schools involved, and helping to make that installation, so I hope they’ll bring all their families back to see it.”

The installation is part of Christmas at Ushaw, which organisers hope will be bigger and better this year than ever before. The artwork will be unveiled at the popular annual Ushaw Christmas Tree Festival, held on Friday, November 29.

The theme this year is ‘re-use and recycle’, and participants are being encouraged to build a ‘Christmas tree’ using recyclable or waste materials, or just from objects lying around the house.