While artificial light may have transformed life on Earth, it has also had a detrimental effect on nature and our health.

Not only does light pollution spoil the view of our pristine skies, according to the Campaign for Rural England there is also “an increasing awareness of the effect that light pollution can have on wildlife, by interrupting natural rhythms including migration, reproduction and feeding patterns”. It’s also not great for humans, resulting in disrupted sleep and depression.

Next month, two specially commissioned exhibitions will begin at the Inspired by… gallery in the North York Moors National Park. The projects, Starscapes and Dark Reflections, aim to not only celebrate the night sky but also promote a wider understanding of its fragility in the face of creeping light pollution and the detrimental impact this is having on the natural world.

World-renowned astronomy artist Louise Beer has spoken to National Park dark sky consultants as part of her research into the philosophical and ecological importance of natural darkness. Beer will then interpret their relationship to the night sky through photography, installation, sound and a visitor participatory element for her Dark Reflections exhibition, which will be designed to help inspire positive environmental change. Meanwhile, Yorkshire Dales-based printmaker Helen Peyton has spent time walking ancient routes across the North York Moors landscape at night, guided only by landmarks and the stars to create a series of artwork entitled Starscapes.

The exhibitions will be a key feature of the half-term Dark Skies Festival, which runs from February 18 to March 6, and will see events being held across the International Dark Sky Reserves of both the North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales National Parks. Both bodies of work also compliment the continuing work being done across both National Parks to protect their International Dark Sky Reserve status (awarded in December 2020) in terms of monitoring the level of darkness and encouraging homeowners and businesses to adopt more dark skies friendly lighting.

Main image: Helen Peyton exhibition, North York Moors. 


The Dark Reflections and Starscapes exhibitions will begin with a special pre-booked preview on February 18 and then run from February 19 to April 3, 2022 at the Inspired by… gallery in The Moors National Park Centre, Danby.