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Newcastle University-commissioned artwork wins South Bank Sky Arts Award

A North East artwork about the moon has won a South Bank Sky Arts Awards as David Whetstone reports

Artist Katie Paterson whose Second Moon art work has won a Sky Arts Award
Artist Katie Paterson whose Second Moon art work has won a Sky Arts Award

Somewhere up there as you read this article is a small fragment of the moon – and it has no idea that it has been the subject of much excitement at an awards ceremony.

The little piece of moon is part of an artwork conceived by artist Katie Paterson. It is called Second Moon and earlier this week it won her the visual art category at the prestigious South Bank Sky Arts Awards, putting her on a pedestal with Arctic Monkeys, ITV drama Broadchurch and others.

Second Moon was commissioned by Newcastle University, Newcastle-based visual art company Locus+ and Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, with support from Newcastle City Council and Arts Council England.

It was launched, quite literally, from the British Science Festival in Newcastle on September 8 last year after briefly going on display at Great North Museum: Hancock.

The fragment of the moon, which we are reliably informed has neither the smell nor consistency of cheese, is circling the earth via air freight courier on a man-made commercial orbit.

Its planned year-long journey sees it moving anti-clockwise across the UK, China, Australia and the USA. Orbiting at approximately twice the speed of the actual moon, it will circle the earth 30 times before its journey’s end.

People who took the opportunity to download a special free app have been following its progress across the heavens.

Go to www.secondmoon.org.uk if you wish to join those tracking what is now an integral part of an award-winning art project.

Katie, who was born in Glasgow in 1981, has a thing about space and the natural world. In the past she has broadcast the sounds made by a melting glacier live to art gallery visitors via their mobile phones and transmitted Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata to the moon and back.

In another project, All the Dead Stars, she mapped all the dead stars known to humanity. She has also compiled a slide archive chronicling the history of darkness.

Since graduating from the Slade School of Fine Art in 2007 she has exhibited in major shows across the world. This year she is to received an honorary fellowship at Edinburgh University in recognition of her contribution to fostering collaboration between the arts and sciences.

Katie won the visual art prize at the South Bank Sky Arts Awards against competition from fellow nominees Michael Landy and Sarah Lucas.

Arctic Monkeys won the pop music category, beating David Bowie and Disclosure, while Broadchurch saw off competition from The Fall and Top of the Lake (both shown on BBC Two).

The awards, also given for classical music, comedy, dance, film, literature, opera and theatre, will be on Sky Arts at 9.30pm tonight.


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer