Photographer brings Kielder dark skies down to earth

A photographic exhibition is giving visitors the chance to explore the darkness of a winter Kielder night throughout the summer months.

By David Sedgwick
Monday, 13th June 2022, 4:07 pm
One of the photographs in the exhibition.
One of the photographs in the exhibition.

Created by photographic artist Helen McGhie, and located on the Skyspace walking trail, the exhibition explores a night of winter stargazing at Kielder through portraits suspended between the trees.

The portraits show stargazers, astronomy equipment and the environment.

Helen, a senior lecturer in photography at the University of Sunderland, has created the exhibition ‘Another Dimension’ as part of her PhD research, exploring how photographic art can create new ways to experience dark skies in northern England.

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Helen said: “My photographs aim to bring a sense of the winter dark sky experience to the summer.

"I’m interested in those moments when our eyes adapt to night vision, which can feel a bit unsettling at first.

“I remember the first time I visited Kielder – I got out of my car, stretched out my arm and couldn’t see my hand!

“Through this work I have tried to capture the imaginative experience of stargazing.

"I like to look up at the sky and imagine distant worlds, I sometimes wonder if there are others looking back at me from elsewhere in the universe.

"It’s fun to imagine that Earth might be a curious ‘other world’ that another planet may wish to discover.”

Catherine Johns, CEO Kielder Observatory, said: “Kielder Observatory has worked in partnership with Helen for several years and her uniquely creative art helps bring new audiences and new experiences to our dark skies and explores how they inspire us.

"We’re delighted to have a new exhibition on the walk to the observatory.”

Alex MacLennan, Recreation, Public Affairs Manager Northumberland, Forestry England, said: “This project is another great example of how people engage with the dark skies of Northumberland International Dark Sky Park which was created in 2013.

“We are thrilled to be working with Helen and Sunderland University nine years on in a new way to engage and showcase Kielder and this project will be really popular with visitors walking or cycling up to Skyspace and onto Kielder Observatory.”

A series of walking tours will be scheduled as part of the exhibition and the work is on show until September 30.