Stunning photography for Festival of the Moon

15/08/2019, PR-9153

Festival of the Moon - Emily Ryalls Solar Dance photography

It's Yorkshire, but not as you know it! A Wakefield photographer has rendered a local landmark unrecognisable, dramatically transforming it to appear as a surreal lunar landscape using rarely seen darkroom techniques. Being shown as part of Wakefield's Festival Of The Moon at the city's former Market Hall between Fri 23 August – Sun 8 September 2019, photographer, Emily Ryalls has created the otherworldly scenes at the site of the former Kellingley Colliery with three, Wakefield-based dancers and her specialist photo developing skills.

Festival organiser, Wakefield Council has released a selection of the intriguing shots as a reminder of the exciting events being added daily to including performances, exhibitions, children's activities and live music, with the majority FREE to attend.

Throughout the festival fortnight, several artists present newly commissioned, moon-themed work to be installed around artist, Luke Jerram's show-stopping, seven-metre wide, an illuminated replica of The Moon, Museum Of The Moon. In the same space visitors will find Ryalls' unusual pictures from the former industrial site located just 12 miles away, but appearing to be of another planet. A recent Nottingham Trent University photography graduate, Ryalls used a specialist form of photo development, pioneered in the 19th century, called 'solarisation' to create the series, titled 'Solar Dance', where Yorkshire's landscape is made to appear grey, cratered and dusty, like that of The Moon itself.

Current and former dance students of CAPA College in Wakefield, Jessica Nixon, from Barnsley, Leah Darby, from Holmfirth, and Ellie Pearson, from Wakefield, all took to the desolate site of the former deep coal mine, which closed in December 2015, to help the artist achieve a set of images where all doesn't look as it seems.

Ryalls, who lives and works in Wakefield, says: "We purposely chose the colliery for the shoot as it was the last deep mine to close in Britain and reflects our unique local history and culture. The three dancers performed an interpretive dance using the deserted and desolate former pit site as a backdrop, ideal for imagining the lunar landscape I'd had in mind. It was all captured on black and white analogue film and developed by myself using traditional analogue practices, although 'solarisation' is one of the more alternative processes. The paper is exposed to a flash of light for a second time while the paper is mid-development, darkening the print and bringing out metallic tones and shadows."

Cllr Jacquie Speight
Cllr Jacquie Speight

The Festival Of The Moon sees Wakefield blast off into two weeks of moon-themed celebration to mark the 50th anniversary of NASA's successful 1969 mission into space. Running over the Summer Holidays until Sun 8 September 2019 more information has been released about key events to entice everyone from sci-fi fans to gaming enthusiasts and yoga lovers. 

A full day of fun kicks off the festival on Fri 23 August, starting from 10am, with free, family-friendly entertainment in Wakefield Precinct. Bringing brass into the modern age, funky seven-piece band, Flat Cap Brass will perform cosmic 'drum and brass' before a spectacular aerial performance of Urban Astronaut from theatre producers, Highly Sprung gets underway at 2:30pm and 4pm. With an astronaut suspended as high as 20ft in the air, walking as if without gravity, it's a performance with a message to all inhabitants of Earth to take better care of the environment. Later that night, the former Market Hall opens its doors for a Launch Party, and for the first time as Wakefield's newest creative space, welcoming live music, DJs, performance, street food, The Museum Of The Moon and more. 

Although full of once in a lifetime experiences, perhaps moonlit yoga sessions are amongst the truly 'must do' opportunities of the festival. With the dates now announced as Tue 27 August and Tue 3 September and the sessions hosted by local experts, Calma Yoga, the moon will shine on yoga enthusiasts of any level of experience, from beginner to expert, over three, calming, hour-long time slots. 

Overdue recognition of Wakefield science pioneer, Dame Marjorie Williamson in the play, Professor Quantum has already got audiences excited for the festival's Science Day on Wed 28 August, yet room has also been made in the former Market Hall for an Inflatable Planetarium to appear on the same day. In the company of expert presenters, the dome will host shows that tell young audiences all about the solar system, space travel and the stars, providing educational storytelling, screenings and Q&A sessions to really fire the imagination. 

Film screenings for the previously announced Star Wars Day on Sun 1 September have been confirmed, with the saga beginning at 10am with The Phantom Menace, the 1980 classic The Empire Strikes Back showing at 2.30pm and The Last Jedi wrapping up from 6pm. As well as the chance to dress up as the film's famous characters, Lego experts set up workstations for younger sci-fi fans to get creative within a world of plastic brick modelling. Taking inspiration from Wakefield's rich history in the gaming industry, not least being home to current games development pioneers, Team 17Games Day on Sat 7 September also promises to be an unforgettable, full day of screen-based challenge, discussion and insight with the event now confirmed to run from 10am to 4pm.

As well as visiting the dedicated festival website and checking for updates via Experience Wakefield's social media channels, visitors to the former Market Hall throughout the festival will be able to pick up printed event listings and discuss upcoming events with staff and volunteers. 

Cllr Jacquie Speight, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Sports at Wakefield Council says: "There's a definite buzz around Wakefield for The Festival Of The Moon and it's with good reason that we are getting excited. Together we'll start using the former Market Hall as a place to gather, have fun and gain new experiences, all within sight of Luke Jerram's remarkable artwork replica of The Moon itself. This is two, whole weeks of specially-arranged events for residents and visitors to take full advantage of, whether they are looking for free daytime activities to do as a family or to dance into the night with friends. So, if anyone is yet to explore what's on offer, now is the time to do so and to come along and join in."

The Festival Of The Moon is supported by the Cultural Development Fund. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport funds the Cultural Development Fund, which is administered by Arts Council England.

Wakefield Council is a partner in Without Walls, working with festivals and artists and bringing fantastic outdoor arts to people in towns and cities across the UK. Find out more on