Submitted by Aether & Hemera

Client: Durham County Council

Location: Durham, United Kingdom

Completion date: 2018

Project Team


Gloria Ronchi

Aether & Hemera

Art Consultant

Claudio Benghi

Aether & Hemera


HOPE is a large-scale text sculpture featuring hundreds of colour changing LED tubes, along with speakers projecting local people’s experiences of the First World War.
The twenty-metre-long installation casts synchronized luminous forms in the immediate surroundings while different voices evoke the stories of men and women during the conflict, creating an immersive spacial experience. The artwork underlines the emotive power of words, revealing the spontaneous overflow of intense and complex feelings about war: hope and horror, hatred and love, fear and shame.
People are invited to walk around the installation for listening and experiencing these stories. The themes remain universal and timeless.


As part of the programme to mark the end of the WWI Centenary in November 2018, Durham County Council was looking to commission a light-based artwork for temporary display in Millennium Place, Durham. The space also serves as a busy pedestrian through-fare between Walkergate and Durham Market Place, the city’s historic civic heart.
The artists were invited to submit a proposal for a site-specific work, responding to the local history, specifically the stories and experiences of County Durham people during the First World War.
The commission's goal was to reflect on the past - commemorating the sacrifice, courage and suffering of all those who lived through the First World War; our aim was to uncover sensorial perceptions, embodying them in a different medium, to engage with passersby and induce feelings of connective human experiences.


We had access to the Durham Record Office and Durham Light Infantry collections, collaborating with the Principal Archivist to select texts from personal letters, diaries, memoirs, and press articles from the period.
After selecting several texts, we recorded these stories collaborating with 4 local actors and a local sound engineer.
A bespoke software was developed in house to synchronise light and sound; we programmed the lights to reflect the nuances of intonation, rhythm and pitch of these voices for creating a dynamic, spatial, multi sensorial art piece.
We designed carefully the supporting structure, producing detailed technical drawings for construction and assembly: each light tube has a different angle and each supporting tube has a different height. Each element was clearly marked and preassembled in the studio for correct installation.

Additional Information

Aether & Hemera is an interdisciplinary art and design studio, producing work that lies at the junction of interactive design, media architecture and contemporary art installation. Founded in 2008 by artist Gloria Ronchi and architect Claudio Benghi, the studio’s work encourages connectivity and wonder through a sophisticated use of lighting technologies and digital media. The artists aim to harness the aesthetic challenges of light and its power to trigger emotions and response, creating engaging spaces that connect people with their history.