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Men are from Mars- especially Adam

Saturday, 12th October, 2013

Adam Norton invites everyone to come to Mars and step inside his “Space Yurt” at the Regional Gallery. Adam Norton invites everyone to come to Mars and step inside his “Space Yurt” at the Regional Gallery.

By By Craig Brealey

Visitors to our green and pleasant city often remark that the parts of it, especially the Line of Lode and the bush, look like the Moon.

But to artist Adam Norton it is more like Mars, and that’s why he came here.

An accomplished landscape painter, Mr Norton also has a fascination with space exploration that started when he was a boy in the 1960s, the era of the Apollo missions.

So last year when he was offered an artist in residence spot in Broken Hill, he saw it as a great chance to combine painting with video and installations works to create an exhibition called “The Mars Project”, which opened last night at the Regional Art Gallery.

The show’s main feature is a film of Mr Norton in an orange space suit “exploring” the local landscape (“from Block 10 to Tibooburra and Umberumberka”) and a large, silver foil “space hut” that sits on red creek sand on the gallery’s floor.

“I am hoping locals can get to see some bits that they know very well from my film,” Mr Norton said yesterday.

“It is taken from the imaginary perspective of the explorer on Mars but I suppose that 150 years ago this is what people would have seen out here.

“My little space hut is probably the size of an early miner’s shack.”

He made it himself from lightweight panels. It is held together by velcro tabs, making it easy for a Mars explorer to fold up and carry.

“It’s called the ‘Space Yurt’ because it is based on the Mongolian Yurt which the nomads use. They just up sticks and take it with them to follow the grazing.”

On top of it sits a Martian flag of red, blue and green (it’s the real thing, says Mr Norton - “a designated Martian flag, as decreed by the International Space Society”).

The red denotes the colour of the planet, the blue the water that was once there, and the green the “terraformed Mars of the future.”

The Mars theme continues with Mr Norton’s paintings that include several of the Red Planet’s moon, Phobos, that were copied from photographs taken by NASA’s Voyager craft. 

There is also a film showing Mr Norton on a real Gravity Simulator that NASA employed to help its astronauts get used to walking on the Moon and Mars where their weight is a third of what it would be on Earth.

“It comes from my childhood,” said the Sydney artist of his inspiration for the exhibition.

“Being a child of the Sixties, I grew up in the space era. The excitement might have faded from people’s consciousness but any kid 10 years old would have been as fascinated as I was.”

“The Mars Project” is on display at the Regional Art Gallery until November 14.

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