Langley Academy: Slough and the Universe - Art, Astrophysics and Inspiring
communities - A project inspired by light.
In 2016, I was Artist in residence at the Langley Academy, supported by Arts Council funding, creating fibre-optic light art installations and workshops, inspired by William Herschel’s work in Slough.
William Herschel was an eighteenth century astronomer, based in Slough. His discoveries have shaped our understanding of the universe. Inspired by Herschel’s discoveries, and the Journey of the Universe Film and Book by Brian Swimme and Mary Evelyn Tucker, I obtained a Grants for The Arts Award from the Arts Council England. Working in partnership with Jenny Blay, Head of Museum Learning at The Langley Academy. By linking Herschel’s work with his discovery of infra-red radiation and modern fibre-optics, the residency explored the interplay between art, science and museum learning for community inspire a greater sense of belonging and cultural heritage for Slough residents of all ages. I created a series of fibre optic based light installations that draw on themes of astrophysics and aim to connect people with universal creative processes. See Transforming from Stardust.
These sculptures were a springboard for developing a series of workshops for children, young people, and adults to facilitate creative expression about the universe and our place within it. We ran 19 workshops which triggered the development of other projects across science and art. This was followed by a further exhibition of the installation with a series of workshops in March 2017 at the Langley Academy Science. After an initial pilot with Slough students and residents, the longer term plan is to incorporate discoveries from the installation sculptures into one large installation to be showcased at The Langley Academy. Additionally, with further funding, the aim is now to further develop the workshops, create smaller portable sculptures and virtual reality films for education across arts and sciences to make the programme more widely available beyond Slough via inspirational training and a programme guide.
Responses to the installation (ages in brackets):
it makes me want “… to explore the processes used and maybe use them myself in DT” (16-19)
• "to design” (16-19)
• “to draw the same thing," "make art too.” (12 – 15)
• “ to explore more about the foundation of stars.” (12 – 15)
• “to learn more about space, galaxies, the universe” (16-19)