Press Office


Life on Mars? Vision of the red planet’s future returns to region


A spectacular panoramic vision of Mars 200 years into the future is to return to the North East.

Mariner 9 by Newcastle University Fine Art graduate Kelly Richardson, goes on show at the city’s Laing Art Gallery on Saturday 10 May.

The 12-metre artwork was created using NASA’s own data, and was commissioned by the Tyneside Cinema and the exhibition will be sponsored by Newcastle University’s Institute for Creative Arts Practice (NICAP).

Mariner 9 shows the Mars landscape littered with the rusting remains of real and imagined spacecraft with some of them still showing signs of life. Kelly used video game software and brought together art, animation and special effects to create it.

Artist Kelly, who also works as a strategic research advisor in the University’s Fine Art department said: “It has been a real honour to work (and study) with so many talented people at Newcastle University. NICAP’s support for their creative arts practitioners is a very exciting development within the university and I'm delighted that they are supporting Mariner 9, giving audiences in the North East another chance to experience the work at the Laing Art Gallery.”

Professor Eric Cross, Dean of Cultural Affairs at Newcastle University and Director of NICAP said: “NICAP is delighted to be associated with Kelly Richardson’s work and to be supporting this important exhibition. A key part of the Institute’s role is working with strategic partners within the region, and Tyneside Cinema’s commitment to a range of artistic work beyond pure film very much matches NICAP’s aim to create synergies between different disciplines.”

Mark Dobson, Chief Executive for Tyneside Cinema said, “Kelly Richardson is a fantastic example of an artist who challenges the perceived boundaries between academic fields with her work. To make Mariner 9, Kelly taught herself how to use Terragen, a complex video game software, and combined it with data from NASA, interweaving fine art, animation, film and Hollywood special effects to create a stunning, hyper-realistic panoramic view of Mars.

“In this way, Mariner 9 perfectly complements the Newcastle Institute for Creative Arts Practice’s vision to promote cross-disciplinary collaboration, and their generous sponsorship of the exhibition of Mariner 9 at the Laing Art Gallery exemplifies their passionate commitment to supporting creative arts practice in the city.”

NICAP is a hub for the creative arts which brings together artists, composers, writers, filmmakers, performers, architects and scientists studying and working at Newcastle University. Launched in 2013, the Institute supports staff, students and visiting practitioners by showcasing their work and encouraging them to develop exciting new ideas by collaborating across academic disciplines.


published on: 9 May 2014