The Dataset’s Dream is a temporary art installation created by two artists, award-winning writer Thomas Sharp and the visual artist Bryony Benge-Abbott, who produced  last month’s film with Big City Butterflies called The Colour of Transformation. 

In collaboration with the DECIDE Project - a research project led by the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in partnership with Butterfly Conservation - Tom and Bryony have created a light, sculpture and sound art installation that imagines that the UK’s moth and butterfly dataset is having its first dream. It invites us to consider the importance of both cataloging the natural world and of touching it with our imaginations. If data could talk, what would it say to us in this time of declining populations of our beautiful butterflies and moths?

Visitors to Orleans House Gallery on 2 - 4 December will be given a downloadable audio file comprising a spoken word narrative of the dataset recalling its first dream. The story is surreal and both full of sorrow and hope. While listening to the narrative, visitors will walk around the dusk-time woodlands that surround Orleans House Gallery to find 7 painted ‘cocoon-caskets’ that emit a soft light, some of them pulsing. The experience lasts 15 minutes and UKCEH/DECIDE scientists will be on hand with the artists to speak to any visitors about the project and research afterwards.

The installation is happening as part of Orleans House Gallery’s Winter Fair featuring c.100 local artisans selling gifts across the gallery site. The Dataset’s Dream will be the only activity taking place in the woods.


The team are looking for 5 volunteers per event to support its safe running. You could volunteer for one or two or all three of the events, whichever is feasible. 

Times: 2:30pm - 7:30pm, or 3:00pm - 7:00pm*

Address: Orleans House Gallery, Twickenham, TW1 3BL 
Dates: Friday 2 December, Saturday 3 December, Sunday 4 December 2022 

* It would be helpful to have some volunteers arrive from 2:30pm to help with the physical installation of the artworks and to stay til 7:30 to help with their pack-down after the event. Let us know if you are able to arrive at the earlier time of 2:30pm, otherwise arriving at 3:00pm will still be a great help in setting up the administration of guests. 


Stewards: This role involves patrolling a section of the small woodland at Orleans House Gallery with a torch and high-vis top to ensure the safety of both the glass sculptures and of audiences exploring the woods. Audiences will have their own small torches but may get lost and need redirecting back to the main entrance. You will be in direct phone contact with the project manager should you need any assistance or to report a fault with the sculptures. 

Sign-in: Using the Eventbrite app, this role involves checking in guests who have signed up for the event and manually taking email addresses of any drop-in guests. For those guests who do not have their own mobile phone you will also be administering headsets for them to borrow to listen to the audio and to return at the end of the experience. 

Travel Costs:
Travel expenses to and from the event will be reimbursed; please save receipts and send to the project manager at the end. There will be light refreshments and hot drinks available for volunteers. 

For further details please contact project manager and artist Bryony Benge-Abbott, [email protected]