Winner of Sir Arthur Clarke Award for 'Best Written Presentation', 2005

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Stars End Project
In mid-2000 Susan Stepney and Charles Whyte commissioned a painting to accompany an amazing science-fictional garden design.

However, before I could do the painting I had to see their home and garden in Ely, near Cambridge, England, and design the spaceship and various other elements, all of of which needed to be carefully co-ordinated.


The 'TIME GARDEN' theme incorporates a 'time portal' (garden arch) separating 'present' (pristine paths and young trees) and 'future' (weathered paths and mature trees). A digital sketch was made of the time portal, through which is seen the actual garden, with added eclipse, based on an illustration for Galactic Tours, (with Bob Shaw,1981) Time Portal

The 'SPACE GARDEN' theme incorporates a 'crashed spaceship', which has subsequently been set upright in its 'crash crater' (garden pond) for repair, but is still damaged, with a 'coolant leak' (waterfall). First, while at the Stepney home, a ballpoint sketch was done. The brief was for the spaceship, to be "alien, organic looking, curvilinear, not angular and mechanical."

Sapceship sketch

Planting around this pond is 'exotic and spiky', to suggest alienness. The sketch above was converted into the digital image at right, with the spaceship against a leylandii hedge. Internal and underwater lighting are planned

The pond


The painting itself depicts an earlier point in the ship's life, after the crash, but before the righting. It incorporates other themes of the garden in the background: the standing stones ('cargo cult' repetitions of the 'time portal'), and the total solar eclipse, which is shown as a composite, 'time delay' sequence. (3 x 2ft [approx. 100cm x 66cm], acrylics on stretched canvas). The painting was completed just in time to be displayed at Paragon, the UK's 2001 Easter SF convention


The painting
The final digital design is for the Diamond Ring eclipse motif on rock. This appears throughout the garden, set into paths and walls.


During 2001 progress was good, and the following stages were accomplished:


Delivering the polystyrene spaceship...

Taking delivery

... and erecting it in place.

Please see Charles & Susan's website for a much more detailed record of progress.

Going up!

On 10 August 2003, Susan and Charles held an 'open day' at which friends could see the completed spaceship, upright in its crash crater (pond). Dave and Ruth also attended. Note the 'coolant leak'!

Another view, with 'alien vegetation' (brought by the spaceship) in the foreground.

Dave, with the ship in the background

The painting, above the fireplace, with the spaceship visible in the garden beyond.

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