Hundreds of local people are invited to come together and create an artwork in The Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) as part of UK-wide celebration of creativity.
Leading outdoor arts company Walk the Plank will be working with local people, organisations and community groups to bring the gathering to life. The artwork will be created at dusk by participants, referred to as Lumenators. With choreography, sound and smart lights, the gathering will be captured on film for all to see afterwards.
This year 20,000 people, from the Cairngorms to The Chilterns, Gower to North York Moors and Dartmoor to the Causeway Coast of Northern Ireland, are being recruited as Lumenators for Green Space Dark Skies. They will be part of 20 large-scale outdoor artworks in the UK’s most outstanding landscapes as part of UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK, from April to September 2022.
To protect these amazing places, the exact locations will only be revealed to the people who have registered to take part. There will be no spectators, but anyone can take part for free as long as they sign up in advance and everyone can watch the films of each event online afterwards.
The Chilterns gathering will be accessible and easy to reach and everyone is welcome to register for free to take part in the artwork.
The Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) covers 833 square kilometres across Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire, and is known for its chalk grasslands, rare and special chalk stream habitats, ancient woodland and rolling hills.
Dr Elaine King, Chief Executive Officer, Chilterns Conservation Board said: ‘We’re excited to work with Walk the Plank on this outdoor arts experience for the local community. We hope the event will provide a new way to spend time in nature, even for those who don’t go down the conventional routes of walking groups, muddy boots and birdwatching. Research has shown that engaging with nature is beneficial to our wellbeing and those connected to nature do more to help conserve it. Events like these, combined with community projects in our heritage lottery-funded ‘Chalkscapes’ Project, offer a route for local people to engage with the Chilterns and forge a new sense of place and belonging, interlinked with the natural world.’
Participants will each be given a smart light developed specially by Siemens, and this enables the digital choreography to be captured on film, while also being sensitive to the night-time environment. Each short film will incorporate the stories of the people and places featured and will be broadcast online after the event. Lumenators will also be encouraged to share their own connections to the landscape and the local areas as part of their involvement.
Why Green Space Dark Skies?
The first gathering will be created in the Peak District National Park on 23 April. Green Space Dark Skies is inspired by the 90th anniversary of the 1932 Kinder Scout Mass Trespass, a pivotal event in the movement to secure access to the countryside for ordinary people that influenced the creation of the UK’s network of National Parks.
Green Space Dark Skies will enable people from all walks of life to forge new connections with the countryside by supporting those who experience cultural and physical barriers to experiencing our National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty to access events. The series of gatherings will celebrate the countryside and people’s right to explore it as well as encouraging our responsibility to take care of it for future generations.
Outdoor art experts Walk the Plank are the lead creative organisation in the production of Green Space Dark Skies. John Wassell, Creative Producer said: ‘Green Space Dark Skies is about class and landscape, race and landscape, disability and landscape. We want to build more countryside stewards for the future, and to inspire more people to see the connection between their use and enjoyment of the land and our care for the planet.’
Developed by graduate engineers at Siemens specially for this project, the lighting technology uses existing wireless programmable low impact lights and incorporates something that’s never been done before: the ability for these lights to be animated through geo-positioning, where the position of each light can be known in relation to the others. There is also the potential for this lighting technology to be adopted for use at future major outdoor events.
The Green Space Dark Skies team is working with Dark Skies representatives in many locations to explore how the project might highlight issues around light pollution in our towns, cities and rural landscapes to support wildlife to flourish. ‘The moment when darkness falls, and we switch the lights off, is going to be the most important collective act of connection between people and nature within each event,’ added John Wassell.
Green Space Dark Skies is one of 10 major creative projects commissioned by UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK, a celebration of creativity taking place across the UK in 2022, designed to reach millions and bring people together. UNBOXED features free large-scale events, installations and globally accessible digital experiences in the UK’s most ambitious showcase of creative collaboration.
Martin Green CBE, Chief Creative Officer of UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK said: ‘Green Space Dark Skies perfectly demonstrates the innovation and creativity we have seen harnessed through the development of the ten UNBOXED projects to explore new ideas for a better future. By engaging artists, engineers, landowners and members of the public to create a series of unique experiences, Green Space Dark Skies will both enhance people’s understanding of our natural environment and relationship to the countryside as well as show the power of creativity to inspire change.’
John Packman, CEO of the Broads Authority, lead CEO for National Parks UK Communications and one of the National Parks CEOs leading the Parks for Everyone Delivery Plan in England said: ‘Green Space Dark Skies is all about helping people to discover the joys and benefits of getting out into nature and celebrating the role and value of protected landscapes in a modern society. It’s a perfect fit with our mission as National Parks. We also think it’s very timely to explore the rights and responsibilities citizens have with respect to nature and landscapes – how to make that relationship as fruitful as possible. We are examining the means to foster that dialogue with the widest possible representation of UK society, especially those communities that are currently underrepresented in the countryside. Green Space Dark Skies is an opportunity to support that effort.’
John Watkins, Chief Executive of the National Association for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty said: ‘The UK’s 46 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty are within half an hour’s journey time for the majority of people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Green Space Dark Skies will give people a truly once in a lifetime experience and the opportunity to develop their own relationship with the nationally valued landscapes on their doorstep. The AONB family is thrilled to be part of Green Space Dark Skies, a project committed to opening up spaces for people while protecting nature. We hope that the Lumenators will continue to return to their AONBs, benefiting from the peace and rootedness that comes with a deep connection with place, and become the environmental guardians of the future.’
Walk the Plank is working with each National Park and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty to create an event as part of Green Space Dark Skies. Each event will depend on confirmation of landowner permissions, approval of event plans and local stakeholder engagement and therefore event locations and dates may be subject to change.
Green Space Dark Skies places environmental and social sustainability at the heart of its design and delivery; highlighting the value of the natural environment as a core purpose and delivering significant measurable positive impact. Green Space Dark Skies will be a carbon net-positive project* combining exemplar low-emissions production with climate investments.
To take part in Green Space Dark Skies register at greenspacedarkskies.uk/get-involved.