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Particles: Art installation celebrates 200th anniversary of Royal Astronomical Society

Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 June 2016 09:40
Published on Wednesday, 01 June 2016 09:39

To celebrate the Royal Astronomical Society’s 200th Anniversary, North Wales based artists Jessica Lloyd-Jones and Ant Dickinson have created a sensory installation of light, colour, optics and sound inspired by astronomy. The exhibit is on display at the Urdd Eisteddfod in Flint, north Wales, until 4 June.
AURORA smallAn image of the ‘Aurora’ display in the Particles installation. Credit: Andrew Gale. Click for a larger image





















This unique installation is a creative interpretation of all things astronomical - an immersive projection environment echoing the sublime beauty of the cosmos.

Video projection covers the ceiling and walls, much like a planetarium, but with a large domed mirror in the centre of the room reflecting the entire environment within it, creating a truly magical experience. The moving animation viewed within the optical depth of the mirror is illusionary, as if you could reach in and touch it. The artists want to convey the concept of being sucked into a black hole or the centre of the universe.
Using graphical software, the artists 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.
The piece also incorporates NASA footage of the Sun, adding a glorious warm glow to the space, along with an ambient soundscape composed from NASA sound recordings.
The visual effects are mesmerising, especially when combined with the subtle colours inspired by the aurora, galaxies and planetary nebulae.
Artist Jessica Lloyd-Jones said: "We wanted to create an environment that is hypnotic and meditative; encouraging the viewer to contemplate life and existence or just simply be immersed within what they see, hear and feel- detached from the world as we most commonly know it.  The patterns you see are intended to be evocative of celestial occurrences and the beauty and wonder we find within them."
Professor Eleri Pryse, Physicist at Aberystwyth University commented: "Aberystwyth University has a long history of expertise in planetary and space science.  It was a pleasure to discuss the wonders of the aurora, sun and space with Jessica and then see her artistic interpretation of astronomy, where the artists have succeeded in capturing the imagination of people of all backgrounds and ages. Placed within the Arts and Crafts tent at the Urdd Eisteddfod and then the National Eisteddfod later this year, the work reaches out to new audiences that may not otherwise engage in science."
Steffan Prys, Urdd Eisteddfod co-ordinator said: "We have a huge audience attendance at the Urdd and it's fantastic to see young people interacting with an art installation that gives them a new experience and perception of science."


Jessica Lloyd-Jones
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Steffan Prys
Urdd Eisteddfod Co-ordinator
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Prof Eleri Pryse
Project Leader and Physicist
Aberystwyth University
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Clare McLoughlin
Education, Outreach and Diversity Officer
Royal Astronomical Society
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Further high-resolution images of the new installation are available at and on request from This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Credit: Andrew Gale

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.

The project will also be at the National Eisteddfod of Wales from 29 July - 6 August 2016.
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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.
About the Urdd
The Urdd is one of Europe's largest youth touring festivals and is being held in Flintshire until 4 June 2016. Urdd Gobaith Cymru's aim is to provide the opportunity, through the medium of Welsh, for the children and young people in Wales to become fully rounded individuals, developing personal and social skills that will enable them to make a positive contribution to the community.

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.
Recent refurbishment ensures that we continue to provide a stimulating learning environment for a growing body of students from all over the world. 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.
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.
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