Northern lights exhibition

 Date:08/06/2006 - 07/01/2007
 Type:Culture, Contemporary Art
 Location:England, London

British photographer Dan Holdsworth has taken photos of the northern lights above the Arctic Circle in Norway - the results, 'At the Edge of Space, Parts 1 – 3', are now on display at The National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London. A series of educational events in connection with the exhibition will also take place at the museum.

Dan Holdsworth’s large-scale photographs explore the limits of perception and the possibilities of photography. This exhibition focuses on the artist’s interest in communicating the invisible realms of time and space, featuring work from the series 'At the Edge of Space' (1999) and 'The Gregorian' (2005), alongside the new commission 'Hyperborea' (2006). These three series show the European Space Agency’s spaceport in Guiana; the Arecibo Space Telescope at the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Centre in Puerto Rico; and the Northern Lights seen from the limits of Reykjavik in Iceland and from the Andøya Rocket Range above the Arctic Circle in Norway.

'At the Edge of Space, Parts 1 – 3', is an investigation into the possibilities of human knowledge. At the edges of what we understand – be it the limits of space, time or nature – human consciousness comes into focus. Holdsworth’s photographs reveal a sense of the contemporary sublime – his expansive landscapes create a vertiginous pleasure in the immensity of what we do not comprehend. Led by his personal responses to each environment he visits, the artist seeks out locations to photograph through their feel and atmosphere. Using long exposures, Holdsworth’s images reveal the world around us in a way that the human eye could never capture. Filled with both time and timelessness, these photographs offer a window to another world that exists beyond our knowledge and experience.

The NMM has commissioned a new series of work for this exhibition, Hyperborea, which continues Holdsworth’s exploration into the spaces between naturally occurring phenomena and our attempts to understand the edges of our environment.  Driving out from the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik, Holdsworth photographed the night skies filled with the constantly moving lights of the Aurora, while the earthbound landscape is pinpricked with lights of moving vehicles and human habitation. The artist also travelled to the Andøya Rocket Range in Norway - located above the Arctic Circle it is the world's northern-most permanent launch facility for sounding rockets and scientific balloons.
Curator of Contemporary Arts, Lisa Le Feuvre, says of Hyperborea: "This breathtaking new series explores the idea of the north through photography in a way that pushes the medium to its limits. Holdsworth’s incredible images interrogate the relationship between the visible and the invisible through an exploration of the limits of our understanding."

The Northern Lights – the source of countless legends – are colourful displays of light caused by the interaction of charged particles from the solar wind with the upper atmosphere, revealing physical activity beyond the Earth’s surface. In Holdsworth’s photographs skies glow green and are punctuated by stars and satellites following the curvature of the Earth, while the desolate landscape is cut through with traces of human existence. These images explore how time and space effect human life and the landscape. Connecting the wilderness of nature with the edge of space, they seem barely possible, yet they reflect the world as it is.

Speaking of this new work, Dan Holdsworth describes how "the experience of photographing the Northern Lights felt like I was entering a different time space. Whilst being alone in the arctic wilderness, I became aware of the cycle of the Earth. The lights are a visual representation of everything that we cannot see but which goes on around us all the time. It’s like being given a glimpse of the rhythm of the universe."

The exhibition also includes 'At the Edge of Space', 1999, a series of photographs taken at the European Space Agency’s spaceport at Kourou in Guiana, South America, as well as ‘The Gregorian’, 2005, which was developed at the Arecibo Space Telescope at the American National Astronomy and Ionosphere Centre, Puerto Rico.

Dan Holdsworth was born in 1974 and is based in London. He graduated from London College of Printing in 1998 and since then has shown in numerous international exhibitions and publications, with solo exhibitions at The New Art Gallery, Walsall; Chelsea Kunstraum. Cologne; Entwistle, London; Barbican Art Gallery, London; and Kohji Ogura Gallery, Nagoya, Japan.

This exhibition has been supported by the Norwegian Embassy, Arts Council London, Golden Shot Photos, MPD Digital Laboratories and A P Bliss.

Dan Holdsworth, At the Edge of Space, Parts 1 - 3
8 June 2006 – 7 January 2007 
National Maritime Museum 
Exhibition admission: Free
Telephone: 0870 780 4552
Transport: DLR Cutty Sark for Maritime Greenwich or rail to Greenwich.
The National Maritime Museum and Queen's House are open 10.00-17.00 daily.

Events taking place at the museum in connection with the exhibition include:

Wednesday 11 October 18.30 – 20.30
Panel Discussion: Wilderness Junkies

with Dan Holdsworth, photographer; Paul Shepheard, writer and architect; David Chandler, Director of Photoworks; Edgar Schmitz, artist; David Rooney, Curator of Timekeeping at NMM; and Public Astronomer Robert Massey. Chaired by Lisa Le Feuvre, Curator of the exhibition
Tickets: £5

Sunday 19 November 14.00 – 15.00
Lecture: What are the Northern Lights?

with Public Astronomer Rob Massey.

Sunday 26 November 14.00  - 15.00
Gallery Talk: Dan Holdsworth, Lisa Le Feuvre and David Rooney


Saturday 2 December 11.00 - 16.30
Study Day: A Quiet Day for the Sun

Exploring solar terrestrial physics
£15 / £7.50 students

Sunday 7 January 14.00 – 14.30
Gallery Talk: The Edge of Space

with Lisa Le Feuvre

Bookings by telephone 020 8312 8560, email or fax 020 8312 6522

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Many of the photos in Dan Holdsworth's exhibition 'At the Edge of Space, Parts 1 - 3' were taken above the Arctic Circle in NorwayPhoto: Dan Holdsworth