Cosmic Collisions – A Summer Solstice Exploration of Creation

World-renowned artists, architects and scientists gather in a small Scottish town for talks and a new exhibition delving into the heart of the universe.

Celebrated land artist Charles Jencks, world-renowned architect Daniel Libeskind and leading cosmologists Carlos Frenk and Noam Libeskind are inviting the public to join them in the small Scottish town of Sanquhar.

All four will be taking part in talks about the deepest secrets of the universe and are also contributing to a new exhibition entitled Cosmic Collisions, Birth, Rebirth and the Universe, at MERZ Gallery, Sanquhar, Dumfries and Galloway.

The talks and exhibition are the centerpiece of a wider Cosmic Collisions event which will include activities at Crawick Multiverse the weekend following the Summer Solstice on 23 and 24 June.

All the speakers and exhibition contributors share a fascination with the vast forces that have created our universe and the magnificence of the galaxies within it.

The exhibition will include previously unseen preparatory drawings by New York-based Daniel Libeskind showing how spiral galaxies inspired his acclaimed new £11.5 million Centre for Extragalactic Astronomy at Durham University. Libeskind is the architect and designer of Berlin’s Jewish Museum and the Ground Zero site in New York.

The exhibition also features a new body of work by Jencks including a section entitled Sex in the Universe.

Jencks, the creator of the 55-acre Crawick Multiverse artland between Sanquhar and Kirkconnel, said: “Cosmic collisions can be catastrophic and creative, ugly and beautiful. It was one of these explosive encounters that ended the reign of the dinosaurs and allowed the rise of mammals, and ultimately our own species.

“Collisions happen at every level with meteors and comets striking planets, and stars and whole galaxies being driven into each other in a vast cosmic dance which is being choreographed by the power of gravity over billions of years.

“When spiral galaxies collide they bring billions of new, fast-burning stars into being, as well as many of the conditions for life itself. Astronomers call them the ‘Whirlpool, Cigar, Antennae, and Cartwheel galaxy’ – names that suggest their extraordinary shapes and amazing fecundity – the greatest reproductive events in the universe.

“It is wonderful that Daniel and Noam Libeskind, Carlos Frenk and our other special guests are coming to Sanquhar from all over the world to share their fascination and insights into issues that get right to the heart of creation and how it happens.”

Other highlights will include a cube created by the astrophysicist Dr Noam Libeskind (Daniel’s son), which maps Laneakia, the supercluster of 100,000 large galaxies to which our Milky Way belongs.

There will be a “galaxy-making machine” supplied by Professor Frenk, Ogden Professor of Computational Cosmology at Durham University.

Frenk is among the four astrophysicists credited with one of the most important theories in the field. They worked out that the universe is full of cold dark matter. In 2011 Carlos Frenk and his colleagues were awarded the Gruber prize, one of the leading accolades in astronomy, for their theory. He will give the keynote address on Friday 23 June, on the emergence of structure in the universe, Everything From Nothing: How our Universe was Made.

Taking part the next day in the talks and discussions will be Open University Professor of Planetary and Space Sciences Monica Grady CBE, and Glasgow University Professor of Astrophysics Martin Hendry MBE. Prof. Hendry is a key member of the Ligo scientific collaboration – a global team of more than 1,000 scientists who (with their colleagues in the Virgo collaboration) made the breakthrough discovery of gravitational waves – ripples in spacetime predicted by Einstein but undetected for a century. Prof. Grady is a leading British apace scientist known primarily for her work on meteorites.

Saturday’s day of talks will also include presentations by science students from the nearby Wallace Hall Academy and Sanquahar Academy.

The weekend is intended to be a productive and convivial collision of ideas with the community, scientists, artists participating at the opening of this year’s events at the Crawick Multiverse.

See the latest video: Tim Fitzpatrick and Charles Jencks: This Summer’s Cosmic Collisions in Sanquhar at


 Notes for editors

  • Cosmic Collisions, Birth, Rebirth and the Universe: An exhibition featuring new work by Charles Jencks and cosmologists Carlos Frenk and Noam Libeskind and architect Daniel Libeskind exploring the theme of ‘Cosmic Collisions’. The exhibition launches on Friday 23 June at 5pm as part of the annual summer solstice festival with the exhibition running until the 10 September 2017. At MERZ Gallery, Queens Road, Sanquhar, DG4 6DH. The exhibition is free to attend.
  • Everything from Nothing: How our Universe was Made: A fascinating and thought-provoking talk by Carlos Frenk, Ogden Professor of Computational Cosmology at the University of Durham. Friday, 23 June at 6pm.

A day of talks at Sanquhar Town Hall with a lunchtime visit to Crawick Multiverse: Saturday 24 June.

  • 10.30am Martin Hendry MBE, Professor of astrophysics at the University of Glasgow
  • 11.30am Dr. Noam Libeskind, astrophysicist at the Potsdam Leibniz Institute
  • 12.30pm Opening of Charles Jencks’ new Galactic Collisions and performance by Oceanallover. Chance to enjoy picnic alfresco, weather permitting
  • 3.15pm Monica Grady CBE, Open University Professor of Planetary and Space Sciences
  • 4.15pm Daniel Libeskind, world-renowned architect and designer of Berlin’s Jewish Museum and Ground Zero site New York
  • 5.30pm: Reception at MERZ Gallery

Venue: Sanquhar Town Hall, Crawick Multiverse and MERZ Gallery.

Price: £20 for all five talks, including entry to the Multiverse, or £5 per talk. £7.50 for picnic lunch or bring your own. DG4/ML12 residents & students £10 all talks, or £3 per talk.

Crawick Multiverse will be open as usual. You are welcome to attend the performance event only at 1.30pm (regular admission prices apply). There will be food available to purchase on site if you have not pre-bought lunch.

You can buy tickets here. Keep track of what’s happening at the Crawick Multiverse via the Facebook page at or check out @CMVerse on Twitter.