Transforming plastic waste into glittering works of art

Artist Vicky Holbrough helps children turn plastic bottles into a chandelier at a workshop at Seaham Library.

Plastic bottles will be transformed into a unique and eco-friendly art installation when communities across country durham come together ahead of Lumiere, the UK’s largest light festival.

Durham County Council’s community arts team has organised a series of creative workshops that will give residents the opportunity to contribute to the festival before it returns to Durham in November.

Commissioned by Durham County Council and produced by Artichoke, the 10th anniversary edition of the Lumiere takes place from 14 to 17 November.

The free sessions are taking place at all council-run libraries and will see schoolchildren, community groups and families turn used green and white plastic bottles into glittering, icicle-like chandeliers. Their finished creations will form part of Bottle Festoon, a spectacular art installation.

Professional artists Kay Henderson, Vicky Holbrough and Dawn Belshaw will lead the workshops, which are taking place on various dates from now until Friday, 1 November.

As well as building excitement for Lumiere and spreading the joy of creativity, the Bottle Festoon workshops aim to raise awareness of plastic pollution.  

In the UK, 38.5 million plastic bottles are used and discarded every day and only half of them are recycled. This means more than 16 million bottles are put into landfill, burnt or thrown into our oceans every day.

Cllr Joy Allen, Cabinet member for transformation, culture and tourism at Durham County Council, said: “Bottle Festoon is such a fantastic project because by creating something beautiful out of plastic waste, it will make people think twice before buying anything in a plastic bottle or throwing their plastic packages and bottles into the bin.

Children show off their creations during the workshop at Seaham library.

“It is also bringing people together, which is such an important part of Lumiere. The festival attracts visitors from across the region and beyond, which is truly wonderful, but, ultimately Lumiere belongs to the people of County Durham. This is their festival and our community outreach programme celebrates this and encourages residents of all ages to get involved.”

Those who attend one of the workshops are encouraged to bring along used plastic bottles from home. Green and clear bottles are preferred, but other colours can be incorporated. Similarly, two-litre plastic bottles are preferable but one litre and 500 millilitre bottles can also be used.

All bottles should be rinsed with hot water and labels should be removed.

Bottle Festoon is supported by County Durham Community Foundation, St Margaret’s Centre Durham and Hays Travel. Community engagement at Lumiere is sponsored by Motorpoint.

This year, is a year of culture in Durham. #Durham19 is a campaign by Durham County Council, Visit County Durham and other key partners to celebrate and promote the unprecedented number of festivals and events taking place. Lumiere, which marks its 10th anniversary in 2019, is a major part of the county’s cultural offer. Visitors can look forward to dazzling large-scale light projections, interactive creations and mind-blowing installations by leading local and international artists, with the full programme to be revealed in October.

To find out the dates and times of the Bottle Festoon workshops, visit

For more information about Lumiere, visit


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