Linden Observatory lights up for art

The first contemporary art exhibition held at the heritage-listed Linden Observatory will take place on Saturday, November 4.

The exhibition will launch The Altitude Project, a series of contemporary art events taking place on heritage sites across the Blue Mountains that share a history of astronomy and aviation.

As well as the Linden Observatory exhibition there will be performances and installations in the public parks named in honour of the celebrity aviators of the early 20th century, Kingsford Smith and Melrose, in February 2018.

Observatory cultural officer and exhibition curator Miriam Williamson, and co-curator Mahalya Middlemist have received funding from Create NSW and the Blue Mountains City of Arts Trust for the project.  

Built in 1940 Linden Observatory displays the innovative technical skills of Ken Beames, the only amateur telescope maker in Australia at the time. The observatory dome and complex of workshops housing the tools used to build the telescope and other instruments, a sand mine (where glass was ground for the telescope lenses) are situated on a rocky plateau.

Beames’ evocative handwritten GPS co-ordinates on the wall of the observatory inspired the title of the show, Observatory Latitude 33° 42’ South Longitude 150° 29” East.  The observatory was gifted in perpetuity to the community governed by the Linden Observatory Trust.

The curators have selected contemporary artists whose works intersect art, science and technology. Internationally acclaimed artist Michaela Gleave along with composer Amanda Cole and software designer Warren Armstrong will present A Galaxy of Suns (percussion of the stars). Tracking the Earth’s motions through space, the work documents in real-time the audience’s precise position in relation to the stars, sonifying stellar data to create a sound and composition unique to their location in space and time.  On the night the Pleiades cluster of stars will be overhead along with the full moon. 

Local artists Brad Allen-Waters with Jon Drummond, Graham Davis-King and Michael Petchkovsky have each developed works in response to the many cultural layers of the site. They include works based on Beames’ skill in lens making and optics installed in the half-built planetarium, a ground works referencing Aboriginal astronomy and the use of GPS mapping and LED lights.

The Linden Observatory Trust will run tours of the site, provide telescopes for night sky viewing and hold a sausage sizzle. The curators invite the audience to bring along a picnic and rugs and settle in for a stellar experience. Numbers are limited and bookings are essential. 

For further information please contact Miriam Williamson on 0409 032 211.