By the mid 1870’s Totland had developed from a small coastal fishing village into a thriving Victorian tourist destination. Holiday makers came in paddle steamers to take the air and enjoy its sandy beaches and costal walks. Science was popular: geology and nature (botany), sea-life, fern collecting, and the local evidence of Jurassic dinosaurs. During this same period there was a widespread public enthusiasm for science lectures. Entertaining speakers, such as Michael Faraday and John Tyndall, could be seen at the Royal Institute, London and in lecture halls and theatres around Britain.
The idea of the science lecture was a source of inspiration in the development of the Great Light and Dark Show. Light and dark has been a long-standing theme of Totland: from the first Needles light placed on the furthest chalk stack in 1855 to the battery search lights that scanned the air during the World War II to the digital monitors positioned along the coast to measure dark sky status. Most nights you can look up and see the solar system, its planets and stars displayed in splendour above you.
Developed by artist Julie Myers with the local community, the Great Light and Dark Show is about how local history, science, changing environment, and art resonate in Totland today. The presentation and displays will be at Totland Parish Hall between 2 – 5 pm on 22nd June 2019.
Artist Julie Myers: ‘During my first visit to Totland, while waiting for the number 7 bus, I met Helen, a local councillor who talked to me about the history of the lighthouse. On the beach I had a conversation with a teenager about her pin-hole camera and the workshop she was part of at Dimbola Lodge. I talked to Liz Wason whose family owns the old lifeboat house and later that evening met a fisherman involved with the local campaign group Dark Wight Skies. Through these encounters, and others, the project began to develop – bits of pieces of information, stories and photographs threaded together to create the Great Light and Dark Show, a public event which brings together local people of all ages to celebrate and share their unique cultural heritage’