My mixed media art-forms revel in the mysteries and materials of deep space phenomena that function as portals for scientific inquiry or interfaces for philosophical contemplation and even escape. These layered photographic works capture sculptural formations of painted papers and fabric with light.
can be imagined as a giant molecular cloud late in its formation where the dust and gas over time have been pulled together to form stars. The dust and gas are attracted to each other by their gravity, they fragment into clumps that grow over time, and become progressively heavier. Their gravity increases to a point where it becomes so strong that the clumps collapse into protostars, causing the material at the core to heat up – and this begins the early formation of newborn stars. Occurring many times in a nebulous cloud to the point where clusters of stars emerge, nebulae such as these are, thus, termed stellar nurseries. Some stars will be massive while others will be low mass such as our Sun. Also, planets within these areas are formed from all kinds of material such as calcium, iron, carbon, oxygen, etc. - so the new stars most likely have planets in their neighborhoods.
Our Sun and planets are probably the result of this process.
This image interprets a nest like space hatching a stellar population cultivated from the elemental material of a giant molecular cloud nebula – a nurturing nursery for newborn light.
is based on a planetary nebula that reveals one dying star – and is the predicted outcome of our own Sun in millennia to come. During the final stages of death, the outer layers of a low mass star are lifted away. This material continues to expand and eventually disperses to expose the core of the star that has now become a white dwarf. Planetary nebulae have many shapes, including ring like structures, as circumstellar gas and dusty matter is expelled.
This is the fate of our Sun, which is currently a yellow ‘dwarf’ star. Nearing its death it will swell into a red giant star – typically becoming 100 or more times larger and predicted to engulf Mercury, Venus, and possibly Earth. It will then shed its layers which will then become the nebulous planetary shell. Remaining near the centre, its core now uncovered, is termed a white dwarf, and is about the size of the Earth.
The name, ‘Helios’ relates to the Sun god in Ancient Greek mythology.
Planetary nebulae are so named as they were mistakenly thought, in the early days of astronomy, to be planets due to their roundish shape and because some bore a resemblance to Uranus and Neptune as viewed through the small, poorer quality telescopes of the day. It has since been discovered that planetary nebula have a very wide range of shapes.
Creating an interface between an artistic view of structures based on my scientific investigation together with metaphoric application, OCULAR NEBULA, suggests the anterior view of an eyeball where arteries and sclera material are surrounded by an eye socket.
Anthropomorphic connections are often visible in my work as I associate the anatomical patinas of deep space entities with visceral, fleshy and organic networks of nature and the human body. I’m interested in the binding relationship between ourselves and the Universe for, as Carl Sagan said, ‘The cosmos is also within us. We are made of star stuff’. By this, he was referring to the fact that the elements that we are made of were created in the nuclear reactions in the cores of stars as they lived, and in the intense conditions during the planetary nebula and supernova explosions during their deaths. The explosions distributed the newly created elements into the Universe as gas and dust particles. Nebulous clouds composed of this gas and dust cooled and collapsed due to gravity to form the next generation of stars – including the Sun and system of planets around it, as well as Earth and everything on it.