Bringing meaning to place with the made-up stories from local communities was the idea behind award-winning Lightwriting – an installation for Lumiere Durham 2011. The stories deliberately used local colloquialisms, language and place references so that it was a narrative artwork specific to place. Working with four different County Durham communities, using a constructed narrative form, stories told of journeys from one location in County Durham to another. Over each of the four evenings the narratives changed – each night being dedicated to the community that contributed with their own made-up stories.
Projecting coloured light to form words through a matrix of holes (3,640 drilled holes per side), the Lightwriting cube told a story four faces at a time, changing every 20 seconds. Visitors ran around and followed the stories before all four sides changed to the next “page”. Every screen was a delight of language caught in all its quirkiness, and all the screens taken together told heartwarming and hilarious stories as they came naturally.
“Finally, on my way back to my hotel, I took in Lightwriting, a collaboration between the designer Richard Wolfströme and the writer Ira Lightman. This piece is in Millennium Place, a cultural “square” – theatre, library, plus requisite coffee shops and chain restaurants – so bland, so utterly characterless, it makes me want to kill myself. But reading the brightly lit, haiku-like stories Lightman (and Wolfströme) gathered from people who live in County Durham, you stop worrying about this. They are as authentic as Millennium Place is ersatz. “Witton Le Wear,” said the last one I read before I headed for bed. “A pheasant flies into a dint’s car.” I puzzled that one all the way home.”
Lumiere 2011 review
The Observer
Rachel Cooke
The Observer full Lumiere 2011 review can be read here.
On 3 October 2014 Lightwriting won a prestigious ISTD (International Society of Typographic Designers) International Typographic Award. The awards ceremony was held at the beautiful art deco De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill-on-Sea which set the scene perfectly for the high quality of award-winning work.
The ISTD International Typographic Awards are held to celebrate and appraise standards of excellence in typographic design, and are judged by some of today’s leading graphic, interactive and typographic design specialists, chosen to reflect a diversity of expertise within the design industry.
The Awards are the only scheme that specifically assesses the typographic element of projects from a wide range of design disciplines.

Lightwriting concept, design and workshops Richard Wolfströme
Workshops and narrative form Ira Lightman
Words: County Durham communities
Fabrication and installation by Hi-Lights
Commissioned by Lumiere Durham 2011
Produced by Artichoke
Play video above to see Lightwriting in action
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