Project info

ARTIST’S STATEMENT: Robert ‘Starman’ Earp
“Sixties sci-fi is such an influential genre. In creating ‘Venus Virgin Tomarz’, my mind went straight to the film Barbarella, starring Jane Fonda, but there were so many other things to draw from too, even ‘80s versions of that, like Flash Gordon.”
“Venus had these sketches, like her ‘Mars Triumphs’ image that has her standing there with a big flag and this kind of moon buggy beside her. The final image looks quite different to the initial concept but also quite similar in that, what I did, was create an environment and even culture for Mars, and the same for Venus, so there’s a continuity running through it all.”
“For example, if you look at Mars, Mars is very aggressive with flags, sharp shapes and blacks, while Venus is much softer, feminine and pastel. Elements that are unique to the specific worlds had to run through all the images. In other words, I needed to make the surreal real. I hope the viewer gets that straight away but, when they scratch the surface, they can study the technique and the story.”
“My team and I sat down and conceptualised every component. ‘Okay, we’re going to make planets now – how are we doing to do it? We did a bit of research and we did a bit of daydreaming, just sitting there and working it all out.”
“The moon was the very first thing that came to me. I was thinking, ‘What is circular and has craters?’ And then I thought, ‘Coffee.’ I’d previously worked on coffee packaging projects and always thought coffee was an interesting surface to photograph, so I was drawing from a library of experiences in my train of thought. And then I thought, ‘Beers and liquids’, and then I ended up landing on beer.”
“When you metaphorically ‘scratch’ at the surface of these artworks, you start to see, wherever there’s a moon in the imagery, that’s beer… The stars in the galaxy… they’re made with bicarbonate soda, spices and a bit of chalk dust… The Mars surface was all red children’s play sand… The tornadoes were created by putting water in a vase then creating a whirlpool with a blender… The aliens were toy robots and all the fleshy bits were fish from my tank… The surface of Venus is actually a $2.50 shower screen. All these techniques are very analogue in nature.”
“We delved into Greek mythology to create the story because everyone knows the gods’ names so that creates a sense of recognition. Rather than gobbledygook, we wanted everything depicted to relate back to Earth, to say this is where we’ve gone – we’ve gone to the outer reaches of space. It all needs to thread back to Earth.”
“Behind it all, the narrative is about equality, really. It’s also about that fight between Venus and Mars in the classic sense from literature – you know, men are from Mars and women are from Venus. That’s very much an influence on the project. That fight is in everybody. And it’s also about acceptance.”
“The works comment strongly on futurism. Where are we going? What are we going to be eating (bugs and insects)? What are we going to be wearing (something fabulous)? Where are we actually going (Mars or Venus or both)? What I really like – and what I try to do in most of my work – is to impart a sense of optimism. Even if dealing with something negative or themes of death and contemplation, I’ll always shine a light of optimism, which I think is important, that says things are not going to end. If you keep optimistic, there’s a way out. Even if it’s a very subtle theme, hopefully people will walk out feeling optimistic.”
“With all my work, I want people to go away and say, ‘Wow, that was stunning.’ I’m a romantic at heart. For me, my imagery and my style are quite pretty, striking and beautiful. My work is designed to make people stop. Like when I was a kid at church, bored out of my brain, daydreaming but getting lost in the paintings on the wall or statues in the corner.”
“I’m not the kind of artist that will come out punching straight away. For example, I wouldn’t use blood for something that’s anti-fur. If it was an anti-fur work, you’d have to look beyond the surface to get that message. I like the viewer to linger, break it down and see the technique. Then they get the actual story itself.”
“It’s interesting how neither myself nor the viewers seem to have a favourite in the Venus Virgin Tomarz images. I’d say I have a few favourites but I constantly change my mind. And I’ve been surprised by the images that appear to attract people. That says to me that this collection is not a one-hit-wonder – it’s not ‘My Sharona’.”