Writing Skyscapes is supported by the Global Heritage fund at Nottingham Trent University. A collaboration between researchers in Science and Technology and in Arts and Humanities, the project is run as part of 'Critical Poetics', a cross-disciplinary research group at Nottingham Trent University that works closely with a range of academic and non-academic audiences in order to inspire new literary expression and inform cultural engagement and contemporary concerns.
Installation shots from NTU Open Dome 'Writing Skyscapes' 2020, Nottingham Contemporary
“You can see the way our landscape and sky inspired people who came and the writing they created” (R Morris-Buck Creswell Crags)
The work created is a mixture of Hubble Heritage imagery and skyscape inspired photography combined with the written responses of participants.
All outputs are in part inspired by the imaging technology from cutting edge satellites to your run of the mill mobile phone camera. They also include the immersive experiences in environments full of contradictions: from the ice age to the industrial revolution, as well as rural sublime landscapes to functional urban cityscapes. They all capture individual, temporal, and sublime skyscape experiences.
Mayo Dark Skies Festival
The exhibition developed further while traveling to the west coast of Ireland and its first international Dark Sky Park in Mayo 2019. There it offered the general public and participants of the 14th European Symposium for Protection of Night Sky the chance to see a selection of images and listen to readings of the poems. They could then write and draw their own experiences.
“Skyscapes are more than nightscapes, a setting now included in most cameras. A narrow definition for skyscape seems impossible. The initial intentions of their creator could even be unconscious or requiring creative leaps that defy logic to outsiders. (Eva Young, Shortlisted Insight Astronomy of the Year Photographer Competition 2016)”
Creswell Crags - Constellations in the Caves
Dr. Dan Brown & Daniel Turner of Nottingham Trent University brought the night sky into the caves of Creswell Crags with a stunning digital projection of constellations and planets along side a short presentation about the skies and the connection between astronomy and prehistoric caves.
Nottingham based Outsider Artist Collective (Val Turton, Julie Moosburg, Sue Lea and Pauline Woolley) invited participants to take part in a drawing activity prompted by what they experienced with visual prompts of the historic skyscape of the Crags.
“This overall experience was something quite magical. … It was a real connection … with the humans who passed this place before.” (LeftLion)
“You can’t visit Creswell without seeing the sky” (R Morris-Buck Creswell Crags)
Based on the poetry written on the first Writing Skyscapes workshop, Outsider Artist Collective invited participants to draw their own skyscape before and after their experience of Constellations in the Cave. Over the duration of the event, all the drawings were photographed and a process of curating began. Definite themes of deep sky, naked eye, skyscape and cave became obvious and the images were then arranged into their own series of work.
Open Dome Event, Nottingham Contemporary with Dr Daniel Brown, Outsider Artist Collective, Rebecca Morris-Buck, Helen McGhie, Deborah Harty and Holly Corfield Carr
The sky is a source of inspiration and a frontier of exploration. As people we have engaged with it since we existed and continue to do so even in our current modern western society. Doing so, we have found many ways in which we express what the sky means to us (skyscape) through photography, poetry and drawings.
This special event combining NTU Open Dome and Outsider Artist Collective's residency at Nottingham Contemporary gave a chance for the public to create their own skyscape expressions in text and drawing inspired by the talks and exhibited work.
During the course of the evening Outsider Artist Collective encouraged the public to sit with them and reflect on the exhibition images and talks. From this they were then encouraged to draw their own interpretation of a skyscape.
Writer and researcher Holly Corfield Carr encouraged participants to write about their own interpretation of a skyscape.
"It is a place where darkness surrounds me, where I gaze up and are imaginatively transported to a cosmic elsewhere. It is a deeply fascinating place to reflect on who I am and what I might become. (Helen McGhie University of Sunderland)”