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North York Moors National Park seeks artist for 10-month dark skies commission

Milkyway taken from Helmsley Walled Garden by Steve BellMilkyway taken from Helmsley Walled Garden by Steve Bell

4 February 2021

The North York Moors National Park is seeking an innovative UK artist to produce a body of work that reflects the importance of our dark skies and the negative impact of artificial light pollution on the natural world as well as humans’ own wellbeing.

The National Park’s Inspired by… gallery at Danby is offering the funded 10-month commission, which will culminate in an exhibition of the artist’s work during the 2022 Dark Skies Festival.

The North York Moors National Park has long championed art as an important way of conveying aspects of the natural world and now, with its newly designated International Dark Sky Reserve status, it is keen to engage the creativity and inspiration of artists to draw attention to the night skies.

The National Park will help arrange study visits and make introductions to astronomers, dark sky specialists and environmentalists to help the appointed artist understand the negative consequences of creeping light pollution.

The artist will be appointed in April 2021 and will have until next February to complete the commission in time for the Dark Skies Festival which runs from 22 February to 6 March 2022.

In the first instance, the Inspired by… gallery is asking for artists to submit brief details on their approach to the project by 15 March.

Full details can be found on

Sally Ann Smith, curator for the Inspired by… gallery explains: “Truly dark skies such as those in our National Park are crammed with over 2,000 stars, which makes them an extraordinarily beautiful sight. However protecting the darkness in our skies goes beyond wanting to preserve their visual appeal as the encroachment of artificial light is having serious repercussions, whether it’s upsetting people’s own body clock rhythms or harming the nocturnal behaviour of species.

“Art has the power to raise awareness of these issues, stimulating debate as to why we should all care and what we as individuals can do. We are looking for an artist who can help ignite people’s passions and inspire them to think about the impact of light pollution.”

The North York Moors National Park was awarded International Dark Sky Reserve status in December 2020 at the same time as the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Both National Parks organise the Dark Skies Festival, which is being run as a virtual event this year, in light of the pandemic, from 12-28 February 2021.


Media contact

Nina Beadle, Communications Officer, North York Moors National Park Authority at or on 01439 772700

The North York Moors National Park

The North York Moors is a beautiful landscape of stunning moorland, ancient woodland and historic sites. Created on 28 November 1952 it became Britain’s sixth national park. Covering an area of 554 square miles (1,436 square kilometres), the National Park has 26 miles of coastline, two national nature reserves, 840 Scheduled Monuments and over 3,000 listed buildings, attracting an estimated 8.4 million visitors a year.

The National Park has two visitor centres, The Moors National Park Centre, Danby and Sutton Bank National Park Centre, providing opportunities for cycling, walking, eating, picnicking, shopping, crafts and wildlife-watching. The centre in Danby also houses the Inspired by… gallery, which features regularly changing exhibitions by artists who draw their inspiration from the North York Moors.

The North York Moors National Park Authority works with a wide variety of people to care for this beautiful corner of Yorkshire, providing apprenticeships and volunteering opportunities with nearly 14% of staff being apprentices from local families.

To view other press releases and for further information about the National Park, please visit the North York Moors National Park website: