Published: 06:00, 06 October 2021
| Updated: 16:05, 06 October 2021
The sound and light spectacular 'Space Voyage' by Luxmuralis transformed Rochester Cathedral, leaving crowds in awe on the opening night.
Queues snaked around the building in Rochester High Street as ticket holders were buzzing with excitement to become immersed in the 'out-of-this-world' experience advertised.
Inside the Cathedral during the lights show
Tickets for the travelling son et Lumiere extravaganza sold out in a flash, with no availability left before the exhibition is removed on Thursday, October 7.
I was one of the lucky ones who managed to secure a ticket for the reasonable price of just £7 per adult.
The entire experience lasted around 40 minutes, with five different video segments to create a walk-through showcase of everything space and science.
However, the first thing I realised was that you definitely did not require a keen eye for sci-fi to enjoy the show - I confess my knowledge is limited and I simply took pleasure in enjoying the beauty of the projections.
Although for many children who were attending, you could hear their enthusiasm for the scientific background - one young boy enjoyed grilling the attendants with every question under the sun, and sharing his facts from books at school.
One thing I was thankful for was the dry weather - for those attending over the next two nights I would recommend being prepared to wait outside for around 10 minutes in a queue. This would not be quite as tolerable in the pouring rain, but the crisp evening air was quite refreshing in my case.
My ticket was for 8.20pm, and the slots are staggered in 10-minute intervals to try and avoid crowds. This worked reasonably well as it meant that the looping videos aligned mostly with when the next group were entering the cathedral.
However, my group were around five minutes late being allowed in so I ended up seeing the end of the first video before it reset.
The first section was a scrolling introduction slide about Space in the 'Star Wars' style.
It read: "For centuries humanity had stared into the night sky and imagined the many wonders that existed beyond the earth. In 1969 the first steps to transform imagination into reality were witnessed..."
I then followed the directions as we were ushered into the area in front of The Sanctuary at the back of the cathedral - this was the canvas for the next animated installation.
The countdown added an excitement as we all waited for the launch.
It must be said that the music composed by David Harper was exceptional and really added to the experience as it complimented the visuals without being too overbearing - though at times it could be slightly distracting when the music from different areas echoed over each other,
The first installation saw periodic table elements, historical figures and circuit boards projected. This gave a sense of what was to come in the remaining four displays.
My favourite part of this projection was the scrolling stained glass which settled to perfectly match the contours of the old traditional archways. It was the optimal blend of modern matched with the traditional elements of the cathedral.
In my opinion, the following couple of displays were slightly underwhelming in comparison to the larger scale projections at the beginning and end of the show.
There were two small informational videos projected onto walls and an LED rocket - these seemed to be more of a hit with the real space enthusiasts and gave more of a museum feel rather than an immersive art show.
The penultimate projection was a large star or meteor? I can't be certain but it was beautiful and the religious aspect of the venue was more apparent here.
To run parallel with the fiery display, cathedral attendants were collecting donations for those who wanted to light a candle in prayer.
This added to the entire appeal in this section within the St Mary's Chapel – the warmth from the candles made the whole projection even more engaging for the audience.
The Very Rev Philip Hesketh, the Dean of Rochester, said: "This is the first major event in the Cathedral since the Museum of the Moon Exhibition more than two years ago.
"We are delighted to welcome people back for this spectacular light experience - we hope it leaves people uplifted and positive, an experience of wonder and joy."
Well indeed, the wonder and joy was perhaps at a climax in the finale of the show held in the Choir.
This is the largest area of the cathedral and it became completely absorbed with the artistic light projections which stretched from the central focus, all the way across the ceiling and archways.
It was a breathtaking experience as you saw a rocket blast off into oblivion and explored everything space, nature and abstract through art.
The only thing I can compare this section to is the projection and fireworks show at Disneyland. It was completely magical and I could watch it over and over again.
With the high ceilings and stunning architecture, it looked like something you would expect to see at the Natural History Museum, not on your doorstep in Medway.
Artist Peter Walker said: "In a cathedral setting the effect is heightened, and the architecture and the atmosphere is an additional aspect which I use to increase the connection between the art and the space in which it is set.
"The Space artworks are produced in advance and then curated into the Cathedral. This is a unique approach and we add or remove works from the Space collection according to the venue and the way in which we want to immerse the audience in the installation.
"Rochester is such a unique and emotive space, it is a priviledge to bring the work here."
The Space Voyage show will remain in the cathedral tonight and tomorrow, with thousands set to flock to the town to attend.
All 7,000 tickets were snapped up a fortnight ago so those without tickets will have to hope that it returns in years to come.