A new art installation is being created to celebrate the dark skies in the Lake District. The installation ‘Intrastellar’ will be open from 21 February until 23 February at Grizedale Forest as part of Cumbria’s first ever Dark Skies Festival, a partnership between Forestry England, Friends of The Lake District, Cumbria Tourism and the Lake District National Park.

‘Intrastellar’, meaning “within the stars”, is a new temporary site specific installation by artist Steve Messam commissioned by Forestry England, Grizedale. The intriguing floating artwork responds to the mirrored surface of the water forming a spectacular interaction between the stars and the sensitively illuminated spheres positioned on Grizedale Tarn. During the festival visitors will enjoy moonless nights, making Intrastellar particularly magical.

Grizedale Forest has been important to artists since 1977, a place that has a rich tradition of inspiring artists to create new artwork directly in response to the landscape for all to enjoy. Through the artist’s eyes we are reminded of the wonder of the dark skies and the stars, constellations and planets which populate it.

The installation will allow visitors to contemplate the natural wonder of the stars, but also think about some of the challenges our world is facing due to light pollution. The installation’s illuminations are a great reminder that achieving dark skies is not about getting rid of all lighting, but rather about the thoughtful consideration to selection and installation of light and use of energy efficient technologies.

Intrastellar will be illuminated from 5:30pm until 8:30pm each night of the festival and staff will guide visitors through the forest on bookable walking tours to the installation. Forestry England is also offering free minibus trips to the tarn from the visitor centre. Hazel Stone, Arts Development Manager, will be available at Grizedale Tarn to provide insight and answer questions about the installation.

Grizedale Forest is also providing other dark sky themed activities for the festival including Shaun the Sheep Glow Trail, stargazing, Natures Nightlife, open artists and makers studios, Earth Photo exhibition and delicious home-made hot food in the café. Grizedale Forest is a beautiful place to experience a whole myriad of dark sky opportunities.

Mark Holroyd, of Forestry England said:

“The Dark Skies Festival presents the perfect opportunity to look up and experience the dark skies of Cumbria and the Lake District National Park – already some of the darkest skies in England. Forestry England is pleased to be working with partners across Cumbria to celebrate and protect our dark skies for the benefit of people, nature and the economy.

An estimated 85% of the UK population has never seen the Milky Way. When gazing upon a star-filled sky, thoughts clear and our connection to nature strengthens. Stargazing is a constantly changing show that allows for great conversation. It fosters inspiration and imagination, alleviates stress and increases happiness.

Unsurprisingly, through their size and composition, the nation’s forests play an important role in protecting dark night skies and providing habitats for nocturnal species such as owls, bats, hedgehogs, moths and small mammals.

The enhanced protection of our dark skies needs to start with enjoyment, appreciation and celebration of what we have. This is a really exciting opportunity for everyone to celebrate one of Cumbria’s most special natural assets.”

Booking for Dark Skies Festival activities at Grizedale Forest is essential. To book visit www.forestryengland.uk/grizedale .

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