Oliver Jeffers has designed a space-themed sculpture trail

Our Place in Space is a 10km-long scale model of our solar system, emphasising the huge distances between planets and encouraging us to reassess our relationship with each other and the Earth

The sculpture trail – produced by the Nerve Centre Collective and part of a wider programme of events – is currently located in Derry-Londonderry in Northern Ireland, where it winds around the River Foyle. Later in the year it will move to Belfast, Cambridge in England, and then back to North Down in Northern Ireland.

Jeffers worked with astrophysicist Professor Stephen Smartt on the sculptures, using brightly coloured arches to represent each planet of the solar system. They’re placed at scale intervals along a 10km walk so that participants get an idea of how far apart they are. Signs let walkers know the precise distance between planets – for example, Saturn is 403 million miles from Jupiter in reality, but a far more manageable 1.7km on the trail. The experience is accompanied by a soundscape created by Die Hexen.

“For centuries, we’ve defined ourselves by who we are and who we’re not,” says Jeffers. “Which side we choose, on what ground we stand, who and what we fight for. A human story that lives merely in human minds. But with distance comes perspective – and what happens to our perspective on everything when we look back at Earth from space?

“Our Place in Space is a playful experiment that asks: What is the difference between ‘us’ and ‘them’? Which side are we on, and if we look back at ourselves from the vastness of outer space – alone on our tiny planet, the only one that can harbour life – should there be any ‘sides’ at all?”

As well as the sculpture trail, there is an augmented reality app and a series of events taking place in Derry-Londonderry, including a spacesuit-making workshop, a brass band performing jazz at Jupiter, and a Guinness World Record attempt for the most people dressed as astronauts. It all takes part under the umbrella of the Unboxed: Creativity in the UK festival.

Our Place in Space will remain in Derry-Londonderry until 22 May; ourplaceinspace.earth

SENIOR DESIGNER

MANCHESTER