There we are – locked somewhere between old and new, between nature and civilization – while the light plays with our senses. For a short while we are enclosed by James Turrell’s Skyspace.
The woman is a perfect motif where she sits. Relaxed, in contemplation. Above us the sky shows up as a blue globe, in sharp contrast to the white, curved roof. Time is given space, a perspective, where we feel the modern pace disappear and become one with the nature outside which has existed for a long time. Isn’t this what Turrell was hoping to accomplish?
I think of the Pantheon in Rome. This is almost like a modern version of it, only in a quieter location. Outside is the forest, not the bustling narrow streets full of tourists that you find in Rome. Moreover, it has something absurd about it, the Skyspace.
As we walked and walked up the gravel forest road, we were wondering what was awaiting us. We looked at the pine trees that grew all around us, the mushrooms poking out here and there, squinting against the sun, happy that the weather was on our side today too. On impulse, we took off from the main road and parked up to take a closer look at Skyspace and the observatory, indicated by the road sign. What was this place?
Almost two kilometers from the car park, we finally step into Skyspace. It feels like walking into an abandoned UFO. Will invisible doors close behind us and prepare for take off?
The woman – my motif – gets up and walks out. Now we are alone and apart from wind noise it is quiet. The big round spot over our heads is incredibly blue, interrupted only by the occasional cloud. It’s like a tiny pixel of the bigger picture, which is to be found outside. Here Skyspace stands as a sort of bunker, but around it the view is endless.
We move on up to the observatory and find a modern wooden structure, which is quiet and deserted. Only a wind generator makes a sound. The door to the toilet is open. The place is obviously in use, we see that someone has prepared for a barbeque. We weren’t sure for a while there, as budgets seem to be cut everywhere these days. A newspaper article on the wall tells us that up here in the woods is the place in the UK with the least light pollution. Therefore a dark space observatory.
We lean against the railings and admire the view. From here we can see far far away, beyond the beautiful Kielder Water and forests, towards Scotland.
It is late afternoon now. The nights are cooler again and we have put some distance behind us in a short time. The night before we admired the view of the North York Moors (Hole of Horcum) while the sun was going down. We saw remnants of Hadrian’s Wall as we drove into Northumberland. We stopped in lovely Bellingham for some shopping and finally drove west along the beautiful Kielder Water, before we parked up where we are now. Another special place discovered and great experiences that we bring with us as we head further on our journey.