Project Overview

A Light Shines in the Darkness was a touring exhibition in which six artists’ films travelled to churches and cathedrals around the country, re-illuminating inspiring public spaces and prompting viewers to see the locations in which the works are sited in a different light.

Churches for a long time occupied a central place in most people’s lives. In recent years, however they have shifted to a more peripheral position with many people never having had a firsthand experience of entering a church building. Overlooked and often undervalued, many have fallen out of religious use. Their powerful architectural presence nevertheless remains and often in the central parts of a town. FVU partnered with the Churches Conservation Trust to shine a new light on these fascinating, historical spaces, and asking visitors to consider them afresh. Reminders of churches’ longstanding role as sites of congregation and contemplation, the artists’ works speculate also as to whether their importance as points of collective assembly has been rivaled by other arenas – an art museum, a floodlit sports field, a natural amphitheatre.

Selected by FVU and independent curator Paul Bayley, the programme takes ideas of light and darkness as its starting point. The shafts of celestial light that once shone in these churches is replaced by the beam of a projector, providing new kinds of illumination. The programme toured to seven venues: including churches in Bridgnorth, Rochdale, Blackburn, Derby and Lancaster, and was bookended with keynote stagings in Winchester and Norwich Cathedrals. Still very much places of worship, and places of wonder, these cathedrals have arguably acquired a new face as major tourist attractions. Despite the difference in scale of visitor numbers, the churches too are considered valued heritage sites; the five chosen to host Film and Video Umbrella’s programme each offering their own architectural personality and social histories.

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Photo credit: Joe Low
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A Light Shines in the Darkness launch at Winchester Cathedral

Image Credit: Sue Hill
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A Light Shines in the Darkness at St Leonard’s Church, Bridgnorth

Photo credit: Rick Tailby
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A Light Shines in the Darkness at St Werburgh’s Church, Derby

Image Credit: Brian Slater
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A Light Shines in the Darkness at Church of St Edmund, Rochdale

Photo credit: Peter Huggins
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A Light Shines in the Darkness, Norwich Cathedral



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