TU Dublin academic’s art on board the International Space Station

Published: 16 Dec, 2022

Artist Gillian Fitzpatrick and Dr Justin Donnelly, an academic from the School of Physics, Clinical and Optometric Sciences, TU Dublin have created a piece of art that is currently in Earth orbit on board the International Space Station (ISS). 

 Our piece ("Like gold to airy thinness beat") is one of 64 art works, each designed to fit inside a 1 cm cube and arranged in a 88 grid. This exhibition is now on board the ISS and has been orbiting Earth since its launch in February 2022. It was curated by the Moon Gallery Foundation, which aims to place the first permanent gallery on the Moon in the coming years. 

Piece of Art in Hand

The title of the piece is from the poem A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning written by John Donne around 1612. He wrote this love poem to his wife in England before his voyage to Europe. The poem explores the idea of connection across vast distances. From the sixth stanza:  

Our two souls therefore, which are one, Though I must go, endure not yet   A breach, but an expansion,  Like gold to airy thinness beat.

The imagery evokes the new technology of fine solar sails, which allow spacecraft to be propelled not by rocket engines, but by light itself. Once free of Earth, these vast sails will unfurl to catch the gentle pressure of sunlight and carry new ships across oceans of space to other worlds. 

We are also pleased to announce that Armagh Observatory & Planetarium is currently hosting a replica of the piece on temporary display in its exhibition space.   

We are both very proud to be associated with the project! 


Justin Donnelly
Email: justin.donnelly@tudublin.ie
Facebook: tinyurl.com/2w8fs682 

Gillian Fitzpatrick
Email: gillfitz36@gmail.com

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Moon Gallery Foundation