AS NASA this week announced its plans on how it hopes to send humans to Mars, Littlehampton’s Museum, too, has its sights fixed on the heavens.
The facility’s Community Gallery has been given an out-of-this-world cosmic twist this winter with a new display.
Space artist, John Lewis’ latest work shows some of the solar system’s celestial bodies at their brilliant best.
John, who is self-taught, has combined his love of science, art and imagination to create striking scenes of moons rising above the surface of a barren planet to a star-strewn sky and even a galaxy drifting in the depth of space.
John’s fascination with astronomy started at the tender age of eight but his passion to combine this with art was sparked over 45 years ago.
Since then, he has spent many hours at the eyepieces of various telescopes, recording and making drawings of all kinds of celestial objects.
Councillor Malcolm Belchamber, chairman of Littlehampton Town Council’s community resources committee, said: “It’s a truly unique exhibition. John’s work is both fascinating and beautiful to observe.”
His artistic influences have been drawn from the American artist and illustrator, Chesley Bonestell, and to a lesser extent, the Swiss space artist, Ludek Pesek.
Despite the photorealism of computer-generated images seen so much these days, John prefers the enjoyment and satisfaction of creating a picture using traditional materials.
Having worked mostly with oils in the past, he now works mainly with acrylics, using airbrush and brushwork.
In some cases, a considerable amount of research is required in order to be able to portray a particular object accurately.
Imagination and a little artistic licence are also important, with John occasionally guilty of embellishing some of his images. His display opened last month at the Church Street institution and will continue right the way up until Christmas Eve.