Get off the grid at the Sanctuary event

Enclosure - a 100ft blue neon circle.
Enclosure - a 100ft blue neon circle.

Sanctuary is back, with an invitation to escape into the heart of the Galloway Forest Dark Skies Park for 24-hours of off-grid, off network exploration of darkness, technology and landscape.

Taking place from noon on Saturday, 23 September to noon the following day it’s a free, event in beautiful countryside, miles from the nearest town and beyond the reach of most mobile phones. It exists for 24 hours and then disappears without trace.

Firmly established as one of Scotland’s most intimate, unusual and enjoyable events Sanctuary offers the chance to join a temporary international community and enjoy interactive artworks, video, performance, talks and workshops.

Once again a highlight will be Dark Outside FM, a site-specific radio station playing previously unheard music contributed from all round the world. It’s a complete one-off as listeners can only tune in onsite and the sound files are destroyed when the event ends.

Sanctuary artworks also include: Dancing the Troposphere – an interactive performance involving a large helium filled data gathering helikite; Enclosure – a 100ft blue neon circle; Sea Hames – a costumed performance by Oceanallover.

Jo Hodges, co-curator, said: “Sanctuary is among the most unusual events in Scotland’s arts calendar. People come from all over the country and beyond, to spend 24-hours as part of a small community in a laboratory for off-grid creative experimentation. And it all takes place in the remoteness of a landscape where the night skies are spectacular due to the lack of artificial light.

“It’s very special to be somewhere tranquil and beautiful with no mobile phone signal, where people can interact with artworks that explore darkness and technology in creative and innovative ways.”

Sanctuary is suitable for all ages. Workshops for families include a “torch hunt and build”, a rocket making workshop and experiments with infrared cameras.

For dark skies enthusiasts, there’s a stargazing walk with Dark Sky Ranger Elizabeth Tyndell. Rachel Rosen will invite people to “sky walk” the site, tracing the form of the constellation Cepheus to discover caches of treasures.

This year more than 25 artists will bring experimental work to Sanctuary. Among them are Katie Anderson, Mark Zygadlo and Martin O’Neill who are all based in the region.

People can also drop into a 63 channel recording studio set up by David Bloor from London, and contribute to a 24-hour marathon community composition. They can make any sounds they like – strum, pluck, blow, rattle, sing, strike, scrape, shake, clap, flick, knock or tap that will form an evolving sound piece.

Entirely new for 2017 is Reach, a project by Tim Shaw which is funded by digital arts organisation The Space. It allows people anywhere on Earth to contribute to a specially designed website that collects text, audio and still images of darkness, silence and remoteness. These will be used to create an offline artwork for the event.

Sanctuary, which began in 2013, is suitable for all ages and is all about participation.

Robbie Coleman, co-curator, says: “This year we have commissioned projects that really let people get involved rather than standing and watching. It’s a really exciting event where we are going deeper and darker with more investigative work.

“And then there is the real pleasure of joining some remarkable people in an unconnected place to investigate ideas about our relationship with technology.”