Moonbrella is our second collaborative project – the name was a bit of a working title, but we didn’t come up with anything better before we hit a print deadline, so moonbrella it is!
The work takes the form of customised umbrellas, used to tell the stories of some of the women who have lunar craters named after them. The majority of the story telling is done via poems which will be written and recorded by the fabulously talented poet Thommie Gillow.
Thommie has been set the ambitious task of writing seven poems about these women over a period of just six weeks.
The moonbrella idea came about through the collision of two separate thoughts.
Firstly, as science communicators, we think a fair bit about generic venues – familiar places where people congregate that have their own social rules and codes – rules and codes that can be used (subverted perhaps) to make fun and engaging experiences. Generic venues can be anything – shops, libraries, bus stops, parks…
Becky had a vague memory (vague memories are a bit of a Wisterlitz theme) of hearing about a project called the laughing umbrella. From what she remembered, the artist would take a large umbrella into a public space such as a park and encourage people to gather with her beneath it. Then, together they would start to raucously fake-laugh. However, when a group of strangers gather together beneath an umbrella to fake laugh, the laughter rapidly becomes real, and escalates until it becomes entirely genuine and joyful (but she can find no evidence of the project’s existence. If you can tell us more about it, please get in touch!).
This set us wondering what other engagement could be done by gathering small groups of people under umbrellas and how we could embellish the umbrellas to use as props for engagement. It’s an idea we hope to return to and explore in more depth in future projects.
Secondly, in the day job, we think a lot about women in science. We’d been researching possible ideas for a space and astronomy themed project when we found out that of over 150 lunar craters named after real people, just 28 are named after women. This seemed like an interesting thought to explore when the occasion allowed, so when we heard about Shrinking Spaces Creatures of the Night call for works, we thought it was the ideal opportunity.
We are absolutely delighted that our idea was commissioned for this event as part of the British Science Festival.
It’s still very much a work in progress for now, but we will be posting updates as the project develops.
The event itself takes place on 7th September 2016 at Plantasia in Swansea.