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Our Disappearing Darkness and Recreating True Night

Lanyon Quoit, Moonrise, Late October waning gibbous moon, 2021 MJ Sharp


Ninety-nine percent of the population of the United States and Europe experience light-polluted skies to the point that well over half of them can no longer see the Milky Way. Artist and educator MJ Sharp, who has been making large-format, long-exposure photographs for over a decade, is collaborating with Professor Kevin Gaston to explore this ‘disappearing darkness’ as part of a 2021/2022 Fulbright award.

MJ’s project involves an extended stay in Cornwall, from September 2021-May 2022. During this time, she will be periodically resident in the Creative Exchange studio in the ESI. The Creative Exchange programme will also support the eventual creation of an immersive art installation that involves scientifically rigorous simulations of night at bronze age sites in Cornwall, at least one of which has been found to be night-sky related.  MJ looks forward to talking to staff and students from across campus about their individual experiences of night and darkness and their perspectives generally on night, darkness, and the effects of light pollution. She can be reached at or in person in the ESI on Monday and Wednesday afternoons from 2–5pm, until the end of the Autumn Term 2021. A ongoing visual journal is available at

On 17 November MJ hosted a workshop in the ESI Interactive space for a group of Falmouth University and University of Exeter Early Career researchers interested in exploring the possibilities of cross-disciplinary work that brings together artistic and scientific perspectives. Early career and emerging artist/researchers were particularly encouraged to participate. It was fantastic to have such an engaging group, some lovely discussions and ideas were shared.