Neon River lights up the sky of the Dearne Valley

23rd to 25th February 2018 saw the skies of the Dearne Valley transformed with a laser shining high in the sky, following the line of the River Dearne.

As part of our Art of the Dearne project, we commissioned three artists and an artist partnership to create a series of artworks in response to the landscape of the Dearne Valley. The aim of the project was to highlight the significance of the River Dearne and how it has shaped the people and landscape over centuries

Artist Patrick Murphy gave his project the title of ‘Neon River’. Neon (Greek νέον (néon), meaning “new”) the idea of creating a ‘new’ look at the river appealed and also the words connection to brightly coloured signs and lights suggested an ideal metaphor for signposting the river.

The work consisted of a concentrated beam of high specification laser light that was projected down the Dearne Valley, visually creating the effect of a ‘river in the sky’, directly above the route of the actual River Dearne below. You can read more about the project at

Thank you to Barnsley Digital Media Centre, for letting us use the balcony of the building to house the laser and for holding a special event on Friday night to mark the beginning of the project. Thanks also to Hayley Youell and James Seward for their performance throughout the evening of their evocative songs to accompany the lights in the sky.

The laser was seen as far away as 9 miles, travelling over the A1 and still going strong.

We were delighted with the response to the project, whether through talking to people when we were out and about over the weekend or via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or email. We were also thrilled to receive live coverage on both BBC Look North and ITV Calendar.

Neon River has definitely helped to raise awareness of the often forgotten and sometimes hidden River Dearne.

Locations in the Dearne

This event can be found at the following locations:

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