Visiting The Moon

“The forecast looks really wet, again, so would you like to visit the moon?” What a question! My friend of course assumed I knew that the moon was in Derby Cathedral for a brief period, but I had somehow missed knowing about this event.

The Moon fills Derby Cathdral

It filled the space in the centre of the cathedral, just fitting between the columns, looking magnificent and big as you walk in. Derby cathedral is rather unusual anyway being Georgian, neoclassical and only actually a cathedral since 1927. The lighting, soft blues and purples as part of the exhibition, reflected off the white walls and brighter surfaces and added to the atmosphere of reflected moonlight rather than the golden sunshine that often fills the space. Working out which view we usually see from Earth was an interesting challenge, especially when the angle isn’t quite the same, and I remembered how the Chinese talk about the Hare in the moon instead of our Man given they see it from a different angle. But the best thing was simply being able to walk all the way around this wonderful celestial body, seeing its different sides for the first time ever, seeing how some areas are covered by craters and others are completely smooth depending on how exposed its surface is. It was truly awe-inspiring.

One aspect that I found fascinating, however, had nothing to do with the actual moon and lots to do with they way our individual brains work. My friend was puzzled by why some craters looked like they went inwards, while others looked like they actually went the other way, standing proud of the surface. I hadn’t seen this at all, but it intrigued me that she did. I realised that because the sculpture was made up of multiple photographs stitched together and printed onto the fabric, some had had the light in different places. In some areas, two craters next to each other even had the light from opposite sides. Because my friend sees the whole first and then looks at the details, she couldn’t make sense of this. Because I see the details individually I hadn’t even realised they were different until I looked carefully. Then I started to temporarily have her problem!

I should add that this is actually an autistic thing – I am not formally diagnosed as autistic, but my daughter is. In this case, I was seeing the outline but understanding the whole through the details. I do this regularly, and can put details together in different ways in my mind to experiment with design, whereas most people prefer to see the whole first and then sort the details later. It means I will sometimes spot a potential problem at a very early stage, but will not be able to explain it adequately to those who are not yet at that stage – and they can’t always explain to me why it doesn’t matter. So it was nice for me to finally understand this.

As far as the moon went however, we were both able to enjoy it in our own unique way.

As we were about to leave, some choral music played and the lights changed colour. I am left with a wonderful feeling of calm and peaceful love. I returned with M a few days later, when I was able to take a few photographs – the gates were closed on this second visit as there was about to be a concert under the moon as part of Derby’s Folk Festival.

The Moon in Derby Cathedral, seen from the choir.

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