Blast off! University supports launch of Rocket Round Leicester

Credit: Beth Walsh Photography

The University of Leicester is supporting a new art trail designed to highlight the city’s space heritage while raising money for a local charity.

LOROS Hospice is working with leading art event producers Wild in Art to create Rocket Round Leicester, the biggest art event the city has ever seen, between Monday 19 July and Sunday 26 September 2021.

The University will also mark its long-standing and continued heritage in space as an official sponsor of the Farewell Event, to be held at the National Space Centre on the weekend of 9 to 10 October 2021.

The city-wide trail will see 40 giant rocket sculptures land in Leicester, with a specially-designed installation in the University’s Centenary Square inspired by Sir David Attenborough and his brother Richard, who lived on campus as boys when their father Frederick became Principal of University College – later renamed the University of Leicester – in 1932.

Betti Moretti is a former Worcestershire Poet Laureate and self-employed artist and has been selected to create the sculpture, dubbed the ‘Relaxing Rocket’, which will stand tall on campus for 10 weeks just a stone’s throw away from where Sir David and Richard grew up.

At the conclusion of the project, each sculpture will be auctioned to raise money for LOROS Hospice, allowing them to continue to care for more than 2,500 terminally ill people every year.

Professor Nishan Canagarajah, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester, said: “We are delighted to support the Rocket Round Leicester project, which will raise funds for a much-loved local charity while also highlighting our city’s long-standing heritage in space.

“The design which we will host on campus is particularly special to the University, as we pay tribute to the impact of the Attenborough family not only to the city but on a global scale – all as we prepare to mark our Centenary year.”

The rocket sculpture is inspired by Sir David Attenborough and Richard Attenborough CBE.

Laura Betts, Fundraising Manager at LOROS Hospice and Rocket Round Leicester Project Manager said: “We’re excited to bring Rocket Round Leicester the city and inject colour and conversation back to the streets. The trail will bring the local community together and raise all-important funds for LOROS Hospice. It means the world that University of Leicester have jumped aboard as our Farewell Weekend sponsor too.

“Not only will the incredible Rocket sculpture designs capture the hearts and imagination of the public, but they’ll also honour Leicester as an incredible place to live, work and visit.”

Artist Betti Moretti added: “I can’t easily find the words to express how proud I am to have created this nature-inspired design – not only for the brilliant University of Leicester, but for the love of art, our stunning planet, the remarkable achievements of the Attenborough family and to support such a brilliant charity.

“I loved working on this sculpture, much of which was free-styled as I explored jungles, mangroves, ocean depths, the universe and beyond.

“Look out for a few creatures dedicated to Sir David Attenborough for being such an inspirational human, and for some dinosaurs I hope his brother Richard may have enjoyed!”

The University of Leicester has a long record of space research, dating back more than 60 years. During that time the University’s experts have flown 90 instruments in space and there has been at least one Leicester-built instrument operating in orbit continuously since 1967. There are currently eight operational Leicester-built experiments in space.

Space Park Leicester, due to open close to the National Space Centre in 2021, is currently being developed by the University of Leicester in collaboration with local, national and international partners. The new facility will provide state-of-the-art, high-tech facilities for research, innovation and new educational pathways. There are also plans for a commercial Low Cost Access to Space (LoCAS) satellite manufacturing facility for the manufacture of mid-range satellites.

To find out more about the Rocket Round Leicester trail, follow @RocketRoundLeicester across social media for more exciting previews before blast off, or visit the Rocket Round Leicester website.