Light show delights as 600 people take part in event at Dunstable Downs

Hundreds of people flocked to Dunstable Downs on Saturday for a picnic at dusk with music, dance and kite making to create a stunning artwork with lights.

By Lynn Hughes
Monday, 18th July 2022, 12:35 pm
Updated Monday, 18th July 2022, 12:36 pm
Welcoming the dusk - Green Space Dark Skies, Dunstable Downs, Phil Jones Photography
Welcoming the dusk - Green Space Dark Skies, Dunstable Downs, Phil Jones Photography

Green Space Dark Skies led by Walk the Plank, worked with local partners and artists to create a magical music and dance celebration of the beauty of Dunstable Downs in The Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). This immense gathering brought together local community groups, many of whom had never visited the Downs before to enjoy the green space and dark skies.

Green Space Dark Skies is a series of 20 large-scale outdoor artworks in the UK’s most outstanding landscapes as part of UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK, from April to September 2022.

The gathering of around 600 people was made up of locals, community groups and people from around the UK. It began with a picnic for the Lumenators who were serenaded by five Dhol Drummers arriving out of a giant Dhol drum. An Odissi dance ensemble presented a rare treat with dance performances in beautiful costumes from Luton-based dance and music company KADAM. Workshops took place with Lumenators creating butterfly-shaped kites inspired by the rare Chalk Hill Blue butterfly which can be spotted on Dunstable Downs.

More than 600 people took part in the Green Space Dark Skies show at Dunstable Downs. Phil Jones Photography

The narrative of the gathering was created by local playwright Teresa Burns who was inspired by her experience of going to the Downs with her father.

Choreographer and artistic director of Akademi Suba Subramaniam choreographed the Lumenator sequences at dusk featuring a soundtrack from contemporary folk musician Jim Carey Connell, poetry and a salutation. The Lumenators formed a Chalk Hill Blue Butterfly shape before running around ‘like fireflies’ with their lights aloft as the finale.

Haleema Ali, Creative leader at Luton Council and RevolutonArts said: “It's quite spiritual and being with hundreds of people doing an activity together was amazing. The poem I performed was played in people's ears while they moved around together. Participating in this and experiencing it with other people felt immersive. Seeing different members of the community, it almost feels like a pilgrimage, people coming and doing something together to celebrate nature and the beauty that's around us, it just felt really amazing.”

Local communities participating in the run-up and during the gathering included Milton Keynes Hindu Association, MK Gallery’s Young People art group ARioT, Camphill and the Women’s Butterfly Project and groups led by Dr Nasreen Ali from the Chalkscapes Project and City Girl in Nature.

John Orna-Ornstein, Director of Culture and Engagement for the National Trust said: “It’s so exciting to see so many people from Luton and Dunstable stay late into the evening and experience the beauty of this open and natural space. I hope the National Trust can do more projects like this, so that whole communities can get involved.”

Dr Elaine King, Chief Executive Officer, The Chilterns Conservation Board said: “It's a priority for us to ensure the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is accessible to everyone. We want to change the narrative and make the countryside a welcoming and enjoyable space for all. Tonight’s event was a perfect example of how this can be achieved.”

To find out more and take part in future Green Space Dark Skies events visit greenspacedarkskies.uk/events