Our Place in Space: Artist Oliver Jeffers and astrophysicist Professor Stephen Smartt are the brains behind 10K art installation along the River Foyle

A children’s author and an astrophysicist have put their heads together to come up with a 10km trail of sculptures that will be launched tomorrow in Londonderry.

By Graeme Cousins
Thursday, 21st April 2022, 1:55 pm

Designed by the award-winning author and artist Oliver Jeffers in collaboration with astrophysicist Professor Stephen Smartt, the trail weaves its way along the River Foyle, recreating each of our solar system’s planets as a contemporary 3D art sculpture.

Known as ‘The Our Place in Space’ trail, it will be launched tomorrow on Earth Day.

It also forms part of a UK-wide creativity project called ‘Unboxed’.

Astrophysicist Professor Stephen Smartt and artist Oliver Jeffers are over the moon ahead of the launch of Our Place in Space this Friday

Oliver Jeffers said: “It feels rather apt that we’re launching this project on Earth Day.

“We hope to encourage people to reflect on humanity’s place within the universe, what it means to exist on Earth, the only place known to harbour life, and how to sustain such life for many generations to come.

“With distance comes perspective – and what happens to our perspective when we look back at our planet from space? Our Place in Space intends to find out.”

An interactive app will be available to enhance the experience of the trail and explore the planets further.

Author and artist Oliver Jeffers at planet Earth ahead of the launch of Our Place in Space

As part of the opening weekend, space scientist and Unboxed board member Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock will host ‘A conversation with Oliver Jeffers and Prof Stephen Smartt’ in the Guidhall at 7pm tomorrow night.

And on Saturday, hundreds of space cadets from across Northern Ireland will attempt to smash the current Guinness World Record of 257 for the most people dressed as astronauts.

Other free events are lined up to take place during this month and next including ‘Jazz at Jupiter’, ‘Sunrise Yoga’, ‘Stargazing with the Irish Astronomical Association’, and a ‘Bat Walk and Talk’.

There will also be a small-scale festival with music, pop-up performances, a picnic at the planets and a solar cinema.

Astrophysicist Professor Stephen Smartt joins author and artist Oliver Jeffers as he puts the finishing touches to planet Earth ahead of the launch of Our Place in Space

Executive producer David Lewis of the Nerve Centre said: “This project has been nearly two years in the making and we are so excited and ready to launch in Derry-Londonderry. It’s not like anything people will have seen before – the trail takes Oliver’s signature illustrative style and combines it with Stephen’s encyclopaedic knowledge of space.

“It’s a remarkable piece of work which transcends across art, science, technology, and maths.

“There is a full programme of activities planned throughout the period that the sculpture trail will live on the Foyle – many things people may never have tried before.

“It’s an exciting and very different programme with something for everyone.”

Author and artist Oliver Jeffers adds the finishing details to one of the scultpures in Our Place in Space

For more information see ourplaceinspace.earth