UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK. 10 big things to know

16 mins read
Green Space Dark Skies - Eduardo Armbrust #3. Via UNBOXED 2022

After the arriving of the SEE MONSTER, let’s take a look back and a look forward at UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK


UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK is a celebration of creativity taking place across the UK in 2022 featuring free 10 major creative projects including large-scale events, installations, and globally accessible digital experiences.

The ten projects are the result of collaborations across science, technology, engineering, arts, and maths, bringing new ideas for our shared futures, from the transformation of a decommissioned off- shore rig to a magical pop-up garden in the centre of Birmingham, and from storytelling through ground- breaking multimedia technologies, to Wales propelled thirty years into the future.


About Us combines live shows and multimedia installations with animation, poetry, original music and live performance. The live show will transform buildings and landmarks in five towns and cities – Paisley, Derry–Londonderry, Caernarfon, Luton and Hull – into a vast canvas featuring bespoke animations, cutting-edge projection mapping technology and a new score by composer Nitin Sawhney performed by local choirs.

Filmed on location in all five points – Paisley, Derry–Londonderry, Caernarfon, Luton and Hull – this film presents the full 25-minute experience exploring the story of everything that connects us, from the Big Bang to the current day. Video credits: UNBOXED

The outdoor installation will incorporate submissions from a UK-wide poetry and computer coding competition for children and young people, launched today. About Us runs for a week in each location, with multimedia installations open throughout the day and multiple free performances every evening.

About Us is created by 59 Productions Collective and led by design studio and production company 59 Productions; Stemettes, an organisation that brings young women and non-binary young people into careers in science, technology, engineering and maths; and The Poetry Society, one of the UK’s most dynamic arts organisation championing poetry for all ages.

Lysander Ashton, Project Director, About Us, said: “Everywhere we look there are networks of connection and meaning. We are stardust: every atom in our bodies can be traced back to deep space and time; our family tree connects us to every living thing on Earth and our lives are defined by our relationships with others. About Us will shine a light on the magic and awe revealed in the most everyday object or moment in towns and cities across the UK.”


Dandelion reimagines the harvest festival for the 21st century. Beginning in April and following the growing season, Dandelion shares a programme of food, music, and ideas with communities across Scotland.

unboxed 2022
Cube of Perpetual Light by Dandelion Photograph by Alan McAteer, 2021 #2. Via UNBOXED 2022

At its centre sit the Cubes of Perpetual Light, miniature vertical farms where design, horticultural expertise and technological innovation combine. ‘Unexpected Gardens’ will spring up from the Borders to the Highlands, in urban and rural locations and from islands to canals and derelict dock sites, showing that even the unlikeliest space can be a place to grow produce for local communities.

New music inspired by plant growth and seasonal change will be shared at live events including two major music and food festivals in Glasgow and Inverness. The next generation of growers also become citizen scientists, with 100,000 schoolchildren and young people invited to take part in the largest community growing experiment ever undertaken in Scotland. Dandelion culminates as the growing season concludes, with hundreds of community Harvest Festivals – reimaging this cultural celebration for the 21st century.

Dandelion is led by the Dandelion Collective, commissioned by EventScotland and funded by the Scottish Government.

Cube of Perpetual Light by Dandelion Photograph by Alan McAteer 2021
Cube of Perpetual Light by Dandelion Photograph by Alan McAteer, 2021. Via UNBOXED 2022

Angus Farquhar, Creative Director, Dandelion, said, “Driven by the concept of ‘Sow, Grow, Share’, Dandelion brings together musicians, scientists, artists, makers, performers and technologists in cross- generational growing and the creation of original and truly local events across Scotland – from its remotest islands to the centres of its great cities – as well as online through films and digital activities. The Dandelion Collective represents both urban and rural participation and aims through the simple pleasure of growing and sharing good food and new music to re-establish harvest as a significant annual festival for everyone.”

Summer programme

Dandelion Festival: Northern Meeting Park in Inverness

14 Ardross St, Inverness IV3 5NS

2–4 September
Music line-up to be announced

Unexpected Gardens: An Garrah h Uist, Stranraer, Greenock, Caithness, Leven, Glasgow, Forres, Alness, Edinburgh, Dundee & Argyll
Until 11 September 2022

A series of specially created ‘edible’ gardens, set to transform patches of unused land and unexpected places all over Scotland including one stunning ‘Floating Garden’, which will tour the Forth and Clyde Canal, and the Union Canal.

Dandelion DAY2 DumiVisuals 3
Dandelion_DAY2_DumiVisuals-3. Via UNBOXED 2022

Free for Alls

Bringing free plants to anyone who fancies having a grow, the Dandelion mini-festivals of growing – with performances, advice on how to get started and free plants for all.

  • 9 July 1-4pm: Falkirk The Helix
  • 10 July 1-4pm: Edinburgh Lauriston Farm
  • 14 July 1-4pm: Stranraer Harbour and Marina
  • 14 July 1-4pm: Hawick, 12 Wilton Park Rd
  • 21 July 1-4pm: Helensburgh, 14 East Montrose St
  • 23 July 1-4pm: Inverness, Bught Park St

The Floating Garden

Dandelion’s Floating Garden barges will engage community networks across central Scotland, from local growers and schools to members of the public with audiences able to follow the tour to experience the gardens in all their glory.

  • 1 July – 11 Sept: The Kelpies Credits

Cubes on Tour

Hundreds of unique miniature vertical farms, Dandelion’s ‘Cubes of Perpetual Light’, will travel the length of Scotland, demonstrating accelerated growing in unexpected places and four musical growing cubes carried on four cargo bikes will also travel around Scotland in August.

  • 1-31 August: Bike Tour, Multiple venues across Scotland 
  • 13-29 August: Edinburgh Book Festival Edinburgh College of Art
  • 15-29 August: Botanic Gardens


Dreamachine is an artwork seen with your eyes closed that explores the limitless potential of the human mind in a powerful new kind of collective experience.

Dreamachine – Lead image
Dreamachine – Lead image. Via UNBOXED 2022

Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London

It is inspired by radical artist Brion Gysin’s pioneering 1959 invention: the ‘Dreamachine’, a homemade flickering light device that created vivid illusions, kaleidoscopic patterns and explosions of colour in the mind of the viewer. Over 60 years after its original invention, Gysin’s concept, designed as the “first artwork to be experienced with your eyes closed”, has been radically reimagined into a major participatory programme, featuring an immersive live experience that will tour the four capitals of the UK. Audiences across the UK will be invited to take part in one of the largest scientific research projects of its kind as active collaborators, led by Professor Anil Seth from the Centre for Consciousness Science at the University of Sussex.

An interdisciplinary collaboration led by Collective Act, Dreamachine brings together Turner Prize-winning artists Assemble, Grammy- and Mercury-nominated composer Jon Hopkins and a team of pioneering scientists and philosophers from the University of Glasgow and University of Sussex.

Jennifer Crook, Director for Dreamachine and Collective Act, said: “Dreamachine will engage audiences across ages and cultures in a powerful new kind of collective experience – one that’s unique to you. The rich kaleidoscopic visuals created by the Dreamachine will come from within, providing a magical insight into the extraordinary potential of our own minds. Beyond the confines of screens or devices, our programme will creatively explore the most fundamental of human connections: how we perceive and create the world around us. To explore one of the greatest remaining mysteries to humankind… all you need to do is close your eyes.”

Dreamachine Photo credit David Levene 2
Dreamachine. Photograph by David Levene 4/5/22

Summer programme

Dreamachine London

Woolwich Public Market, Plumstead Road, London, SE18 7BZ
Until 24 July 2022

Dreamachine Belfast

Carlisle Memorial Church, 31 Carlisle Circus, Belfast BT14 6AT
25 July – 4 September

Dreamachine Edinburgh

Murrayfield ice rink, Riversdale Cres, Edinburgh EH12 5XN
13 August – 25 September


26 September – 2 October, Live in Swansea and Blaenau Ffestiniog as well as broadcast and online media. GALWAD, meaning ‘call’ in Welsh, is a story set 30 years in the future, brought to screens and locations across Wales through a TV drama, digital immersive app and live performance in Blaenau Ffestiniog, Merthyr Tydfil and Swansea.

GALWAD Hero image
GALWAD Hero image

A story from our future | TV, online and on location in Blaenau Ffestiniog, Merthyr Tydfil, and Swansea

The near-future world of 2052 is being co-designed with Hollywood production designer Alex McDowell (Minority Report) and communities across Wales and is inspired by the ground-breaking Well-Being of Future Generations (Wales) Act, which puts issues such as poverty, health inequalities and climate change at the heart of public decisions.

GALWAD is commissioned by Creative Wales. It is produced by Collective Cymru led by National Theatre Wales, a partnership of Wales-based organisations including Disability Arts Cymru, Centre for Alternative Technology, Clwstwr, Ffilm Cymru, Frân Wen in association with Experimental Design Studio and Sugar Collective.

Claire Doherty, Creative Director for GALWAD and Collective Cymru, said: “The making of GALWAD has begun and we are already seeing that when you change the storytellers, you change the story. GALWAD brings together Wales’ boldest talent in film and TV, creative technology and live performance for a new kind of multiplatform story that invites audiences to explore the moral dilemmas and possibilities of a different kind of future.”


20,000 people are being invited to help create Green Space Dark Skies, a series of interventions celebrating the UK landscape using geo-positioning light technology to be experienced by audiences online.

Green Space Dark Skies Eduardo Armbrust 3
Green Space Dark Skies – Eduardo Armbrust #3. Via UNBOXED 2022

Online from April

Sites across National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty will be illuminated by dramatic chains of light that will sweep down mountains and through valleys. The project takes as its inspiration the 1932 Kinder Scout mass trespass, an act that led to the establishment of access rights to the countryside. Participants, known as ‘Lumenators’, will be recruited from communities across the UK and equipped with handheld lights that make moving pictures across the landscape, to be filmed and shared online.

Developed by Siemens, the lighting technology uses existing wireless programmable lights and incorporates something that’s never been done before: the ability for these lights to be animated through geo-positioning, where the position of each light can be known in relationship to the others.

Green Space Dark Skies is produced by Walk the Plank Collective, led by UK outdoor arts pioneers Walk the Plank working in collaboration with technology company Siemens, the University of Salford, National Parks UK and Landscapes for Life: the National Association of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which is responsible for the management of the project’s event sites; and working with diverse artists and creative collaborators in different locations, including integrated circus company Extraordinary Bodies, the collaboration between Diverse City and Cirque Bijou, and film production company CC-Lab.

Green Space Dark Skies 2
Green Space Dark Skies #2. Artist Visualisation Graphic Design Eduardo Armbrust. Via UNBOXED 2022

John Wassell, Creative Producer, Walk the Plank Collective said: “Green Space Dark Skies is about class and landscape, race and landscape, disability and landscape. We want to build more countryside stewards for the future, and to inspire more people to see the connection between their use and enjoyment of the land and our care for the planet.”


To take part in Green Space Dark Skies register at https://greenspacedarkskies.uk/get-involved/ Locations are revealed to those signed up to take part.

  • 6 July: Brecon Beacons National Park, South Wales 15 July: The Chilterns AONB, Bedfordshire
  • 6 August: Anglesey
  • 11 August: Cairngorms National Park, Highlands
  • 20 August: Orkney Islands
  • 3 September: Scafell Pike: Lake District National Park 10 September: Ben Nevis and Glen Coe NSA
  • 24 September: Slieve Donard: Mourne AONB


Derry–Londonderry, Belfast Divis and the Black Mountain, Cambridge and Ulster Transport Museum

Our Place in Space is an epic scale model of the solar system designed by artist Oliver Jeffers, combining a 10km sculpture trail in Northern Ireland and Cambridge, an interactive augmented reality app, and learning and events programmes.

Our Place In Space Oliver Jeffers and Professor Stephen Smartt
Our Place In Space – Oliver Jeffers and Professor Stephen Smartt Artist Oliver Jeffers and Professor Stephen Smartt (Our Place in Space part of UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK). Courtesy of Nerve Centre, 2021

From creating a star to writing a symphony for the universe, inventing a new form of transport, building a Minecraft planet or connecting with space watchers in Vietnam or Iraq, Our Place in Space invites participants to look at our solar system in a different way – exploring what it means to live on Earth in 2022, and how we might better share and protect our planet in future.

Designed by artist and children’sauthor Oliver Jeffers with support from leading astrophysicist Professor Stephen Smartt, and featuring music by award-winning composer, producer and sound artist Die Hexen, the trail will travel from Derry– Londonderry to Divis and the Black Mountain, Belfast and to the Ulster Transport Museum and the North Down Coastal Path in Northern Ireland as well as a riverside location in Cambridge.

Our Place in Space Mandatory Credit ©Lorcan Doherty

Our Place in Space is produced by Nerve Centre Collective, led by arts organisation the Nerve Centre and commissioned by UNBOXED with Belfast City Council. The collaboration behind the project includes the Astrophysics Research Centre at Queen’s University Belfast, National Museums NI, NI Science Festival, Big Motive, Taunt, Microsoft, Jeffers & Son, Dumbworld, Live Music Now, Little Inventors, the National Trust and Urban Scale Interventions.

Our Place in Space Mandatory Credit ©Lorcan Doherty

Oliver Jeffers, artist, said: “For centuries, we’ve defined ourselves by who we are and who we’re not. Which side we choose, on what ground we stand, who and what we fight for. A human story, that lives merely in human minds.

But with distance comes perspective… Our Place in Space is a playful experiment that asks: What is the difference between ‘us’ and ‘them’? What happens to your perspective on everything when you look back at Earth from space?”

World Record Breakers 07
Our Place in Space Mission Complete: A new Guinness World Record has been set in Derry-Londonderry today [Saturday 23 April]. A record-breaking 716 people dressed as astronauts smashed the existing Guinness World Record of 257 which had been set by Seaview Primary School in Bristol. TV personality Mark Langtry and local YouTube sensation and Blue Peter presenter Adam B were among those famous faces taking part in the record-breaking attempt which marked the official opening of Our Place in Space; a 10km sculpture trail which recreates the solar system on earth. Our Place in Space is the flagship commission of UNBOXED and is open to the public from April-October at various location across Northern Ireland. The trail will be in Derry-Londonderry until 22nd May with a full programme of satellite events taking place. For more information visit ourplaceinspace.earth Mandatory Credit ©Lorcan Doherty

Summer programme

  • 11 June – 10 July: Divis and the Black Mountain
  • 30 July – 29 August: River Cam, Midsummer Common Cambridge
  • 17 September – 16 October: ulster transport museum North Down


Edinburgh and Birmingham

PoliNations is a monumental pop-up forest garden in the centre of Birmingham that celebrates the global origins of the UK’s plants and population through immersive installations, live music, talks and performances.

An artists render of PoliNations Credit Trigger THISS Carl Robertshaw Bronia Housman
An artist’s render of PoliNations Credit – Trigger, THISS, Carl Robertshaw, Bronia Housman. Via UNBOXED 2022

Starting with a single large tree structure in Edinburgh, PoliNations will ‘grow’ into an immersive forest in the centre of Birmingham filled with real and architectural trees as well as plants, grasses and flowers grown in collaboration with local communities. From daisies to horse chestnut trees and dahlias to the English rose, many of the plants that we consider to be part of the UK landscape originate overseas.

PoliNations – also part of the Birmingham 2022 Festival – is a celebration of diversity in the UK, exploring multiculturalism through the metaphor of the incredible biodiversity of our plant life and culminating in a party that brings together the spirit of the Notting Hill Carnival, Pride and Mela with the joyous anarchy of Songkran and Holi.

An artist render of PoliNations courtesy of Trigger Collective. Credit THISS Carl Robertshaw Trigger
An artist render of PoliNations, courtesy of Trigger Collective. Credit THISS, Carl Robertshaw, Trigger. Via UNBOXED 2022

PoliNations is produced by Trigger Collective and led by Bristol-based arts organisation Trigger, drawing on experts in the fields of horticulture, science, architecture and the arts.

Angie Bual, Creative Director of PoliNations and Co-Director of Trigger Collective, said: “PoliNations celebrates the colour and vibrancy that plants and flowers have brought to the UK and invites us to reimagine our cities as greener and wilder places to be. Combining engineering, horticulture, theatre and music from around the world, PoliNations is a spectacular co-grown forest garden that will ignite the senses and deepen understanding of our shared history, bringing people together from all walks of life with an utterly unforgettable finale.”

Events and places

2-18 September: PoliNations Forest Garden, Victoria Square, Birmingham
A monumental forest garden of living plants and architectural, fabricated trees in the centre of Birmingham in celebration of the global origins of the UK’s plants and population. Hundreds of plants will be co-planted by local communities and schools who have nurtured them from seed, ready to take pride of place in the pop-up garden.

1-11 September: PoliNations Poetry & Performance Festival, Victoria Square, Birmingham PoliNations presents a weekend of spoken word events featuring performances from the brightest local, national and international talent on the spoken word scene.

15-18 September: PoliNations Ballistic Seed Party, Victoria Square, Birmingham
PoliNations culminates in a four-day Ballistic Seed Party, combining the joyful spirit Carnival and Holi!


SEE MONSTER is a decommissioned North Sea offshore platform transformed into a public art installation in the coastal town of Weston-super-Mare and celebrates British weather.



SEE MONSTER’s location in the town’s former lido, the Tropicana, references the heyday of British coastal resorts while creating new opportunities and possibilities for both the site and the platform. It will harness the power of the elements to provide renewable energy for the reimagined structure. With planted gardens, places to meet and learning programmes, SEE MONSTER invites audiences to consider new ideas for creatively repurposing retired structures for future use.

SEE MONSTER is brought to life by NEWSUBSTANCE Collective, led by Leeds-based creative studio NEWSUBSTANCE in collaboration with Dose of Society, REDHOUSE, Rocket Women, Empowering Women with Tech, kinetic sculptor Ivan Black and representatives from The British Antarctic Survey, and is supported by North Somerset Council.

Arrival 13.07.22 05 Credit @NEWSUBSTANCE
SEE Monster, Arrival_13.07.22_05 Credit @NEWSUBSTANCE via UNBOXED

Patrick O’Mahony, Artistic Director of SEE MONSTER and Founder of NEWSUBSTANCE, said: “The arrival of SEE MONSTER in Weston-super-Mare is a springboard to explore the concept of inherited structures – physical, social and environmental – and to question what we do with them, how they can enhance our lives and what actions they inspire, both individually and universally.”


StoryTrails will bring together augmented reality, new developments in 3D internet technology and the next generation of creative voices to shape one of the most ambitious living history and archive projects ever undertaken.

Story Trails Blackpool city wide
Story Trails – Blackpool city wide. via UNBOXED 2022

StoryTrails | Blackpool, Bradford, Bristol, Dumfries, Dundee, London Borough of Lambeth, London Borough of Lewisham, Lincoln, Newport, Omagh, Sheffield, Slough, Swansea, Swindon and Wolverhampton.

StoryTrails is an immersive experience that will bring to life untold stories from the past and stories of belonging from today, inspiring a UK-wide conversation about who we are and where we are going. Libraries, streets, town squares and public spaces are being transformed into virtual portals through which to explore stories of historical change in 15 locations across the UK in 2022. The StoryTrails creative team will work closely with communities in each of the towns and cities to uncover unknown, surprising and intriguing stories. It will culminate with a brand new film for the BBC and the BFI by David Olusoga: exploring our history, considering our lives today and starting new conversations about where we might go next.

Story trails – Professor David 2
Story trails – Professor David #2. Via UNBOXED 2022

StoryTrails is produced by StoryFutures Collective, led by StoryFutures Academy which is run by Royal Holloway, University of London and the National Film and Television School (NFTS) and delivered in partnership with the British Film Institute (BFI), broadcaster and filmmaker David Olusoga, Uplands Television, and leading immersive specialists ISO Design and Nexus Studios. It will be brought to life in The Reading Agency’s national network of libraries and by event-making specialists ProduceUK.

1 July to 19 September: Story Trails: Live Weekends

StoryTrails takes place in 15 locations across the UK, with free two-day residencies in each town centred around libraries:

  • Dundee, 7-8 July: Dundee Central Library, Wellgate, Dundee DD1 1DB
  • Dumfries, 12-13 July: Ewart Library, Catherine Street, Dumfries DG1 1JA
  • Blackpool, 16-17 July: Blackpool Central Library, Queen Street, Blackpool FY1 1PX
  • Bradford, 22-23 July: City Library Bradford, Centenary Square, 9 Aldermanbury, Bradford BD1 1SD
  • Sheffield, 27-28 July: Sheffield Central Library, Surrey Street, Sheffield City Centre, Sheffield S1 1XZ
  • Lincoln, 30-31 July: Lincoln Central Library, Free School Lane, Lincoln LN2 1EZ
  • Wolverhampton, 6-7 August: Wolverhampton Central Library, Snow Hill, Wolverhampton WV1 3AX
  • Swansea, 10-11 August: Swansea Central Library, Oystermouth Road, Maritime Quarter, Swansea SA1 3SN
  • Newport, 13-14 August: Newport Central Library, John Frost Square, Kingsway Centre, Newport NP20 1PA
  • Bristol, 20-21 August: Bristol Central Library, College Green, Bristol BS1 5TL
  • Swindon, 27-28 August: Central Library Swindon, Regent Circus, Swindon SN1 1QG
  • Slough, 3-4 September: Library @ The Curve, William Street, Slough SL1 1XY
  • London Borough of Lambeth, 10-11 September: Brixton Library, Brixton Oval, London SW2 1JQ
  • London Borough of Lewisham, 17-18 September: Lewisham Library, 199-201 Lewisham High Street, London SE13 6LG


Tour de Moon | Leicester, Newcastle and Southampton, and satellite locations across England Tour de Moon is a series of festivals, satellite events, nightlife experiences and a travelling convoy inspired by and, in collaboration with, the Moon.

TDM Rushes socialExport 433
TDM-Rushes, via UNBOXED 2022

Tour de Moon aims to open conversations about future utopias and support the creation of new work by creatives, makers, digital artists, musicians, scientists, writers, nightlife artists and performers aged 18 to 25. Following an open call, bursaries are being awarded across eight programming strands including sport, publishing, filmmaking, music, digital and debate. Those recruited are shaping the content of Tour de Moon through unexpected collaborations. 

Tour de Moon aims to ignite imaginations in playful, critical and intriguing ways: popular sounds are being merged with recordings of the galaxy to create a new alien music genre; music tracks are transmitted to and from the Moon using Earth-Moon-Earth communications technology (EME), also known as ‘Moon bounce’; and there are opportunities to DJ with the Moon or phone the Moon for advice.

TDM Rushes socialExport 2
TDM-Rushes-socialExport-2 via UNBOXED 2022

Tour de Moon is produced by a diverse team led by Nelly Ben Hayoun Studios.

Dr Nelly Ben Hayoun-Stépanian, Tour de Moon Director, said:“Tour de Moon travels with the night collaborating with our universal satellite- the Moon- seeking for new beginnings, to empower others to create, to initiate, to innovate with new thinking and pluralistic practices so that history does not repeat itself on and beyond Earth.

220512 TOURDEMOON Wolverhampton JakeDavis @jakephilipdavis 1844 1
TOUR DE MOON, Wolverhampton, JakeDavis @jakephilipdavis Via UNBOXED 2022

In this cosmic night-time adventure, the Moon is both character and landscape, in permanent transformation and flux, to ignite radical imagination. We are an after-party of immersive experiences, new technologies and science innovation which support decolonial practices, celebrate and support the creativity of night-time workers and youths.”

Via UNBOXED 2022

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