‘The Bovedy Illuminations’
The Armagh Planetarium and the Market Place Theatre and Arts Centre (13th April – 23rd May 2019) and The Seamus Heaney HomePlace, Bellaghy, Co. Derry (26th October 2019).
These two exhibitions and a special event at HomePlace marked the 50th Anniversary of the landing of the Bovedy Meteorite in Northern Ireland. On the evening of 25th April 1969, Noel was playing football in the street with friends when the falling meteorite tore low across the skies of West Belfast. They all stood transfixed as the early evening sky was fiercely illuminated by the magnificent fireball streaking above their heads.
Across Belfast a series of explosions were heard as it broke the sound barrier on its descent, coming to ground on farmland at Bovedy.
Noel revisited this event to produce a body of work, fusing photoworks, moving image, poetry and sound to illuminate his memories of that remarkable evening, often working with the actual meteorite, now in the collection of the Armagh Planetarium.
Central to Noel’s image making for this work is a copy of his original school register from La Salle School, Belfast, marked on the very day the meteorite fell. Captured using micro-photography, he became entranced by the beauty and significance of these tiny penned crosses. He then projected these images across the surface of the actual meteorite, recording an extraordinary fusion of personal and universal histories. The previously insignificant trails of ink from a teacher’s pen, are transported and transcribed across fifty years of space and time to create his visual and poetic illuminations. As part of the audio-visual piece for the exhibition, current pupils from his old school recorded that day’s historic register.
This exhibition was shared across two venues, The Market Place Arts Centre and the Armagh Planetarium, where Noel’s work was placed alongside the actual Bovedy Meteorite. His short film, created especially for the exhibition, was projected into the beautiful domed theatre of the Planetarium. It was introduced by the Belfast-born poet Gerald Dawe (previously Professor of English and Fellow Emeritus, Trinity College Dublin). Gerald also joined Noel on stage for an special event of readings, discussion and a screening of the film at the Seamus Heaney HomePlace in Bellaghy.