There was a hush in the air as I entered the church. A lunchtime concert was taking place, so the historic space was filled with soft piano music, rising and falling amongst the stone archways and stained glass windows. And there, suspended above the aisle, (almost imperceptibly) was the Moon. A huge, glowing orb, lit from within, offering up the closest glimpse of the lunar surface I’ve ever had.
How did the moon come to be in a church, hanging enticingly above an audience listening quietly to jazz music? This is Luke Jerram’s Museum of the Moon, the star of an incredible new art event taking place in my home county of Dorset over the next couple of weeks. The Dorset Moon centres around the Museum of the Moon (more on that in a sec) but there’s much more to it than that. Keep reading to find out exactly what this amazing event is all about!
Disclaimer – my coverage of the Dorset Moon was commissioned by the Arts Development Company. But all thoughts and opinions are my own!
The Dorset Moon is a summer art event starring the Museum of the Moon, a 2016 art installation by Luke Jerram. This is a large-scale model of the moon, measuring seven metres in diameter, made using 120dpi detailed NASA imagery of the lunar surface. At an approximate scale of 1:500,000, each centimetre of the internally-lit spherical sculpture represents 5km of the moon’s surface.
The moon has been suspended in a variety of locations, so the setting is as much a part of the artwork as the installation itself. It’s been on tour all over the world, so I’m very excited to see it come to my home county Dorset- where it will appear on three consecutive weekends at different locations! More details on when and where can be found at the end of this post!
This stunning moon installation is only a part of the overall event. Dorset Moon also commissioned seven new artworks from artists based in the South West. These include sound installations, performances, and immersive digital experiences – all with a lunar theme. The artworks will be showcased at the different Dorset Moon locations, although some are specific to certain locations.
Dorset Moon is produced by the Dorset Festivals Consortium: Inside Out Dorset (produced byActivate), b-side and Bournemouth Arts By the Sea. Commissioned by the Arts Development Company with funding from European Regional Development Fund and Arts Council England.
Originally, the Dorset Moon’s first location was meant to be the Bournemouth Central Gardens, but this was changed last week due to the weather. The revised location, St Peter’s Church, was incredible. Bournemouth Gardens are always really busy and while I’m sure the Moon would have looked impressive there, I feel like the church was a more atmospheric location.
When I visited, there was a concert taking place in the church – with Andy Quinn playing jazz on the piano. The moon hung above it all, casting a mesmerising glow over the audience. Suspended above the aisle in the centre of the church, surrounded by stone archways lit up in electric purple, it looked much more like the real moon than I’d anticipated! The orb is covered with actual images of the moon’s surface and lit from within, so it really seems to be glowing in the night sky.
This installation is where science and art collide. NASA imagery and accurate scaling mean that this is the closest most of us will ever come to seeing the moon up close. And the setting is a huge part of the atmosphere; the moon looked stunning in St Peter’s Church, but it will be totally different in Weymouth’s Nothe Fort! You could check the moon out in each location, and have a completely different experience each time. I’ll be visiting all of them and sharing on my Instagram, so make sure you’re following me to see it in each location!
Friday 28th – Sunday 30th June: St Peter’s Church, Bournemouth.
Friday 5th – Sunday 7th July: Sherborne Abbey, Sherbourne. There’s also a summer concert by the Sherborne Abbey Choir on Saturday night at 7:30pm.
Friday 12th – Sunday 14th July: Nothe Fort, Weymouth.
Attending the Dorset Moon is totally FREE of charge so make sure you don’t miss it. Whether you’re in Dorset already, or looking for a fun day out, this is perfect!
Top tip – the weekend that the moon is in Weymouth Nothe Fort is the same weekend as the Dorset Seafood Festival along Weymouth harbour (13th and 14th July). This is one of my favourite annual events in Dorset, so it’s the perfect opportunity to combine two cultural events!
There’s plenty to discover in Weymouth, Sherborne, and the surrounding areas. So make a trip to see the Moon, and tie it in with some sightseeing in what is (in my very biased opinion) one of the best parts of England!
If you are in the area this month, be sure to check out my other posts about Dorset, too.