Distant Light Symposium - Day 1

07 September 2019

10:00 - 17:30

The Royal Photographic Society
RPS House
337 Paintworks, Arnos Vale
United Kingdom

RPS Member£40.00 
Non RPS Member£45.00 
Information pack (PDF, 101.9 KB) →

These talks will be facilitated by Lumen to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing and support the RPS exhibition Space Steps the Moon and Beyond.

Lumen is an artist-run collective, focused on themes of astronomy and light through art, exhibitions, residencies and seminars.



10.30 – Intro from LUMEN

10.45 - 11.45 Julie F Hill
Julie’s talk gives an overview of her practice which questions scientific images and the technologies used to construct them. In particular she will discuss Elizabeth Kessler’s notion of the astronomical sublime, inspired by 18th Century Romantic landscape paintings, and how approximations to the earthly and geological are embedded within astronomical images, in an attempt to make them understandable. 


11.45 – 12.45 Print Science Talk and Table Display
Print Science​ is a collaborative project by artists ​Louise Beer​ and ​John Hooper​. The project was inspired by Cosmographia (Petrus Apianus, 1548) which was viewed by the artists at Monte Cassino, Italy, during a Lumen residency. The incredible ‘treasure’ within this book led the artists to start their own collection of historical astronomy books. From here they photograph the illustrations, and present them as framed objects, bags or cards. In order to preserve the connection the astronomers had with our mysterious cosmos, the emotive language used within the books to describe the wonders of space and the multitude of celestial bodies is included in the reproductions as short quotations. Print Science will share some of their favourite images from their collection. 

(LUNCH 45 minutes)


1.30 – 2.30 Helen McGhie
Helen will discuss her practice-led PhD research project at the University of Sunderland, in partnership with Kielder Observatory (a public outreach science organisation in Northumberland) where she is engaging the staff, volunteers and visitors to create a series of new photographic artworks. With reference to ‘feminist science’ theory, Helen is critical of the clichés in images of space (the vivid, mesmerising compositions) and seeking new representations that capture the imaginative experience of darkness for astronomers in northern England.

2.30 – 3.30 Hondartza Fraga
Hondartza’s talk will consider the relationship between astronomical images and artistic responses, with a particular focus on the remote objects of scientific observation. Hondartza’s recent interest has been the planet Saturn, and the recent NASA Cassini mission as her main focus. 

15 minutes break

3.45 – 4.45 William Arnold
Will Arnold will talk about his series Tin-can Firmament, a series of months-long exposure pinhole photographs of the sky. The pieces, which function at both macro and micro level purport to have some grounding or basis in the scientific method that builds and organises knowledge in the form of testable explanations and  predictions of forms in the universe, yet all have been produced of a largely emotionally driven catalyst.  William Arnold will speak about this and other recent celestial diversions in a diverse photographic practice. 

There will be time for a Q and A session after each talk.

Bristol HQ, The Royal Photographic Society, RPS House, 337 Paintworks, Arnos Vale, Bristol, United Kingdom, BS4 3AR

You will need to bring a packed lunch or use local amenities – Sainsbury’s and M&S are both within walking distance.  Parking can be limited so please use public transport if possible. You can book a place to park your car nearby at this link: https://www.yourparkingspace.co.uk/locations/show/4294938009


Cancellation policy

Please inform us as soon as possible if you are unable to attend a course as it is not possible to refund any cancellation or transfer to another workshop less than 14 days prior to course start date. The Society reserves the right to cancel a workshop 7 days prior to its start date - please check your hotel and travel cancellation policy as this may be affected. If you are attending one of our workshops that involves a trip out, please ensure you bring all weather clothing and protection for your camera. Persons under the age of 16 are welcome to attend events but, to conform with UK law, must be accompanied by a parent, guardian or responsible adult.

Liz Williams
Email the event organiser
0117 3164450

Region: Bristol (HQ)