Hundreds of local people will come together to create amazing outdoor art in the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty this summer 

Creating a collective connection to Dorset’s remarkable landscape, as part of UK-wide celebration of creativity 

Producer Activate Performing Arts and outdoor arts company Walk the Plank are recruiting one thousand local people to participate in a mass gathering in Dorset called Green Space Dark Skies. The production will see people come together with artists and creatives to forge powerful collective connections to the local landscape. 

When? The Dorset gathering is happening on Saturday 11 June 

Where? Taking place in the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the exact location won’t be revealed to the general public until after the event, to protect this amazing landscape 

How to sign-up? Become a Dorset Lumenator by registering here: 

20,000 people, from the Cairngorms to the Chilterns, Gower to North York Moors and Dartmoor to the Lagan Valley in Northern Ireland, are being recruited to create large-scale outdoor artworks in 20 of the UK’s most outstanding landscapes for Green Space Dark Skies, part of UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK, from April to September 2022.

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 relationship to the others; as well as 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. 

Activate Performing Arts are working with the Green Space Dark Skies team as local producers. The Dorset-based arts organisation works around the South West and exists to uplift and connect people by bringing extraordinary events to unexpected places. A not-for-profit, Activate’s aim is to break down barriers and reach the widest possible audiences, while celebrating Dorset’s natural landscape and sense of place – making it a perfect fit for the ambitious Green Space Dark Skies production in June.  

Kate Wood, executive and artistic director of Activate Performing Arts said: 

“We are thrilled to be a part of Green Space Dark Skies, part of the Unboxed programme. We’ll be providing an opportunity for hundreds of people of all abilities to be involved in the project in the beautiful setting of the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – and millions more will be able to watch a beautifully curated film this summer.” 

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, benefitting from the peace and rootedness that comes with a deep connection with place, and become the environmental guardians of the future.” 

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. 

Events will take place across the UK from 23 April with the finale in September featuring events in all four nations of the UK: 

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 the confirmation of landowner permissions, approval of event plans and local stakeholder engagement and therefore event locations and dates may be subject to change. 

  • England: Peak District National Park (23 April); Dartmoor National Park (May); Exmoor National Park (28 May); Dorset AONB (11 June); Broads National Park (June); North York Moors National Park (date tbc); and The Chilterns AONB (date tbc).  
  • Northern Ireland: Lagan Valley AONB (30 April); and Sperrins AONB (June) and another location to be announced soon. 
  • Scotland: Cairngorms National Park (August) with more locations to be announced soon. 
  • Wales: Gower AONB (13 May); Brecon Beacons National Park (July); and Anglesey (date tbc). 

    Walk the Plank is working with a number of creative partners in each location including Extraordinary Bodies, the collaboration with Diverse City and Cirque Bijou in Dartmoor, and Activate Performing Arts in Dorset; and with the University of Salford to develop some of the major public engagement for Green Space Dark Skies. Walk the Plank is working with the National Trust as creative and delivery partners in a number of locations across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. 

    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. 

    *The Green Space Dark Skies project is measuring and balancing 100% of its unavoidable Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions. The project also acknowledges its Scope 3 emissions and the complexity associated with calculating these, and is working hard to rise to the challenge with its stakeholders. 

    UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK is funded and supported by the four governments of the UK and is commissioned and delivered in partnership with Belfast City Council, Creative Wales and EventScotland. 

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