Productions     Sunspots

Sunspots is a poetic, musical, and visual journey from the birth of the Sun, through its long and eventful life, towards its ultimate death.

Is the Sun a god, a man, a woman, or simply a giant ball of hydrogen? Why does it tell fibs about its favourite painters? Is the Sun afraid of dying? Does it get depressed? And what does it really think about us, and the solar system it is bound to care for?

Simon Barraclough (Poet in Residence at the Mullard Space Science Laboratory) is your guide on a journey that mixes fact, fiction, horror, humour and joy. This hour-long show fuses words, film and songs that vary in style from the infectiously poppy to the broodingly intense. Simon (words, music, vocals, trumpet), Oliver Barrett (music, instruments and arrangements) and Jack Wake-Walker (film) have created an exciting and moving experience that reinvigorates and reimagines our neighbourhood star.

Simon Barraclough illuminates solar science with a poet’s gaze. His words conjure the epic journey of a photon from the Sun’s heart to the retina of the eye, the blaze of sunshine in a Van Gogh canvas or the daily slide of shadows over Stonehenge and Manhattan. Sunspots is a love letter from the third planet to its parent star.

Dr Marek Kukula, Public Astronomer, Royal Observatory Greenwich





Photography: Kerry Hagan



Simon Barraclough is originally from Yorkshire and has lived in London since 1997. His debut collection, Los Alamos Mon Amour was a Forward Prize finalist in 2008. In 2010 he published a pamphlet of commissioned poems, Bonjour Tetris (Penned in the Margins) and his second full collection Neptune Blue (Salt Publishing) followed in 2011. Simon has collaborated with artists and writers on a number of events and publications including Psycho Poetica (Editor, Sidekick Books 2012) and The Debris Field (with Isobel Dixon and Chris McCabe, Sidekick Books 2013). He has contributed regularly to BBC Radio’s The Verb and The Film Programme, as well as to The Long View. In 2014, Simon was writer in residence at UCL’s Mullard Space Science Laboratory in Surrey. He is very excited about our neighbourhood star.

Oliver Barrett is a musician and illustrator. Having played in various bands, he has most recently put out several releases under his Petrels moniker on various labels internationally including Denovali, Tartaruga and Patient Sounds.  Since releasing debut Petrels album Haeligewielle in 2011, Oliver has toured across Europe, sharing stages with the likes of Demdike Stare, Tim Hecker, FIRE!, Nate Young (Wolf Eyes), Trouble Books, Fennesz, Nadja, and Hans-Joachim Roedelius (Cluster). Petrels’ output is proving to be thrillingly eclectic and unpredictable; he has also collaborated with and provided remixes for artists as varied as Brassica, Talvihorros and Max Cooper. As a composer he premièred work at BFI, London Word Festival and Southbank Centre. As a performer he has played with artists ranging from Duane Pitre to Steve Beresford to Can’s Damo Suzuki. A multi-instrumentalist, Oliver’s musical practice ranges from solo electronics, acoustic improvisation, band work, and sound art, to orchestral arrangements and song.

Jack Wake-Walker has been producing documentaries and art films for seven years. His feature-length documentary The Man Who Prints Houses has been shown at a number of international festivals, as well as being broadcast on Italian television. His short poetry film Ten Thousand Things was shown at the Body Electric Festival in Colorado, and Cyclop festival in Kiev. He has frequently collaborated with poets Isobel Dixon, Simon Barraclough and Chris McCabe, and musician Oli Barrett on projects such as Shad Thames, Broken Wharf at the London Word Festival, Doppelgänger at King’s Place, and The Debris Field, a live 45-minute poetry/film experience first shown at the BFI.

Tour dates

6 JUN LONDON Keats House (Preview)
2 OCT LONDON Southbank Centre
8 OCT READING South Street
13 OCT BOURNEMOUTH Arts Festival
6 NOV HULL Humber Mouth Festival
25 NOV YORK St John University
7 DEC LONDON Kings Place
11 JAN 2016 OXFORD Playhouse (BT Studio)
26 JAN 2016 NOTTINGHAM Lakeside

Creative team

Writer/performer: Simon Barraclough
Music: Simon Barraclough & Oliver Barrett
Film: Jack Wake-Walker
Producer/director: Tom Chivers


Supported using public funding by Arts Council England.

Supported by UCL Mullard Space Science Laboratory