Artwork Monday: Mother Mars

In honour of the Phoenix lander's successful touchdown in the Martian Arctic last night, I thought I would share a painting done a number of years ago.

Mother Mars

This painting was inspired by the Martian meteorite, ALH84001 and the inscription is carved into the rock in the bottom left.

The figure represents a mythology that never-was, the personification of Mother Nature on the planet Mars, wasted and haunting.

After struggling with a "mermaid's purse" shark egg to represent the false hope of organisms on Mars, I eventually attended a lecture at the University of Toronto where the topic of discussion was the possible discovery of fossil remnants in a meteor that originated on Mars. I learned about the magnetite chains found in the meteor, and watched a video of the cute little microbes whipping this way and that, following a moving magnet. I replaced the shark egg with an enlarged, ruptured microbe immediately.

Until that lecture, this painting sat unfinished and abandoned for over a year, and I was sure I would paint over it. It's something I seldom do, but I really wasn't fond of it. The addition of the magnetite-bearing microbe made all the difference to me.

The face was a sort of riff on the infamous hill-face on Mars, later proved to be simply a low-res, shadowed coincidence. I felt the debunked image lent a certain poignancy to Mother Mars.

Mars is what we make it. Perhaps Phoenix will find signs of life in the Martian arctic? If not, it continues to be a planet of hope, and one we invest more myths, ideas and dreams in than any planet other than our own.

Here is one of Phoenix's of the Martian arctic:

(Photo from NASA site) Make sure to head over to the Phoenix site over the coming days, weeks and months for astounding findings. Also, check out the ever-entertaining Bad Astronomy blog for more news and commentary.

Cheers, to all involved with the Phoenix project!
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All original artwork on
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