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'Particles' to celebrate 200th anniversary of Royal Astronomical Society

Last Updated on Friday, 29 July 2016 09:00
Published on Friday, 29 July 2016 08:36

The National Eisteddfod of Wales, held at Abergavenny from 29 July until 6 August, will host the Sun and stars. Cheek by jowl with a political party on one side and a writers’ group on the other, will be a sensory installation of light, colour, optics and sound. Gronynnau (Particles) by artists Jessica Lloyd-Jones and Ant Dickinson,
celebrates RAS200: Sky & Earth – the 200th anniversary of the Royal Astronomical Society.

AURORA smallAn image of the ‘Aurora’ display in the Particles installation. Photo credit: Andrew Gale. Click for a larger image

“We wanted to create an environment that is hypnotic and meditative - encouraging the viewer to contemplate life and existence,” said Jessica Lloyd-Jones, “or just simply to be immersed within what they see, hear and feel… detached from the world as we most commonly know it.”

Bu using graphical software, Jessica Lloyd-Jones and Ant Dickinson create the effect of explosions of particles moving across and spiralling around the exhibition space. The particles move and are then drawn together again in beautiful collisions, like stars or interstellar dust echoing the beauty of the cosmos.

According to the artists, they wish to convey the idea of being sucked into a black hole or the centre of the universe. To create the experience, within a darkened space within the stand a video projection covers the ceiling and walls, much like a planetarium. Though everything is an illusion, it is as if you can reach in and touch it.

The visual effects combine the subtle colours inspired by the aurora, galaxies and planetary nebulae.

“The patterns you see are intended to be evocative of celestial occurrences and the beauty and wonder we discover within them.” said Jessica Lloyd Jones.

“It was a pleasure to discuss the wonders of the aurora, Sun and space with the artists and then see their creative interpretation of astronomy, said project leader Professor Eleri Pryse, Physicist at Aberystwyth University. “They have succeeded in capturing the imagination of people of all backgrounds and ages.”

Jessica Lloyd-Jones and Ant Dickinson have been able to benefit from Aberystwyth University’s expertise in planetary and space science. The work exhibited at the National Eisteddfod of Wales will reach new audiences that may not otherwise engage in science.

“By bringing the dynamic of the visual arts and science together, we are pleased to facilitate the exhibiting of Gronynnau,” said Eisteddfod Visual Arts Officer, Robyn Tomos. “Whilst celebrating RAS200, we foresee that the installation will help further the awareness of astronomy and physics in Wales.”



Media contacts

Robyn Tomos
Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Cymru
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Clare McLoughlin
Education, Outreach and Diversity Officer
Royal Astronomical Society
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Art / science contacts

Jessica Lloyd-Jones
Mob: +44 (0)7989 167025
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Prof Eleri Pryse
Project Leader and Physicist
Aberystwyth University
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More images (medium resolution)
Images of the ‘Aurora’ and ‘NASA Sun’ displays in the Particles installation. Photo credit: Andrew Gale

Images of the installation are also available at and high resolution files are available upon request from Jessica Lloyd-Jones via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Notes for editors

The work is part of a wider project to present Astronomy and Geophysics through the arts, with the science of the universe viewed through the creative expression of the arts including poetry, music, art, dance and song. The project is a collaboration between the Urdd National Eisteddfod and the National Eisteddfod of Wales. It is led by Aberystwyth University and involves experts in Astronomy and Geophysics at several institutions. The project is funded by The Royal Astronomical Society, as part of RAS200, the Society’s bicentennial celebration.

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About the Artists

Jessica Lloyd-Jones and Ant Dickinson are a collaborative duo based in the UK working at the intersection of digital art and technology.

Jessica is a visual artist who works with light, investigating ideas about energy and natural phenomena. Ant is a creative technologist and sound designer working with electronics and programming. Together, they are interested in making the invisible visible and creating sensory experiences in unique spaces.

Jessica and Ant have collaborated on a number of projects, which include large-scale 3D animated mapping projections for Adelaide Festival Australia, a permanent wind responsive architectural lighting design for the new Plas Heli Welsh National Sailing Academy, Pwllheli.

Their practices complement each other, allowing for innovative ideas and processes to emerge as part of the exchange between two creative minds.

Follow Jessica Lloyd-Jones on Twitter @Jess_LloydJones


The National Eisteddfod of Wales

The Eisteddfod is one of the world’s greatest cultural festivals, and brings together people from all ages and backgrounds to enjoy an eclectic mix of music, literature, dance, theatre and visual arts.

Held alternately in north and south Wales, the festival is also a two-year long community project, bringing communities together, organising workshops for young people and providing opportunities for people to volunteer and learn new skills within their local area. The Eisteddfod exists to promote culture and the Welsh language, and includes hundreds of events and activities aimed at all ages and interests.

The Eisteddfod has a long history that can be traced back as far as 1176. The modern day Eisteddfod began in 1861.


About Aberystwyth University

Physics has been taught at Aberystwyth since the University was established in the Old College on the sea front in 1872.The department is now housed in one of the most distinctive and architecturally-renowned buildings on the Penglais campus, where lecture theatres, laboratories, study areas and the Physical Sciences Library are located together. The department is now home to over 300 undergraduate and postgraduate students. Our aim is to provide the highest quality education in a friendly and supportive environment and to undertake internationally competitive, collaborative research in Space Physics, Materials Physics and Quantum Physics.

Follow us on Twitter via @Prifysgol_Aber and @AberPhys


About the Royal Astronomical Society

The Royal Astronomical Society (RAS), founded in 1820, encourages and promotes the study of astronomy, solar-system science, geophysics and closely related branches of science. The RAS organizes scientific meetings, publishes international research and review journals, recognizes outstanding achievements by the award of medals and prizes, maintains an extensive library, supports education through grants and outreach activities and represents UK astronomy nationally and internationally. Its more than 4000 members (Fellows), a third based overseas, include scientific researchers in universities, observatories and laboratories as well as historians of astronomy and others.

In 2020 the Royal Astronomical Society will be 200 years old. To celebrate the bicentennial, the Society is establishing an Outreach and Engagement Fund to support astronomy and geophysics projects that create a real buzz about science – understanding, discussion and dialogue – in diverse sections of the community.

Follow the RAS on Twitter