Native, 2016
2 channel projection,  single channel audio, pencil & watercolour on paper, ceramic, glass dome, red desert sand, petri dishes, seeds


Native is a multi-disciplinary installation engaging with the implications of humanity’s impending expansion to Mars, as well as challenging the viewer to examine their understanding of concepts of belonging and nativeness. ‘Native’ explores the concept of what it is to be native, within an implied future beyond the colonisation of Mars. It brings together old and new methods of making – hand drawn and sculptural ceramic forms complemented by sound elements and interactive projections.

Referencing Prof. Angela Moles’ ideas about the evolution of weeds in Australia into a type of new ‘native’ plant, this piece poses questions about colonisation, and what happens when we begin to inhabit Mars. Once we allow plants to germinate in a new environment, the dramatic difference from the original conditions spark epigenetic and genetic changes. In essence, the evolution of ‘Martian native plants’. This also has implications for human colonists, who will become Martians, not just metaphorically, but biologically. In addition, by interrogating the implications of colonising Mars, Native also speaks to issues surrounding belonging, nativeness and migration on present-day Earth.

Composed of several elements, the work is centred around a ‘Mars native plant’. In the centre of the room is a mound of red sand, on which sits a ceramic Martian lettuce stained a symbolic red, within a glass dome. Projected onto this is a circular image, derived from the first X-ray diffraction analysis of Martian soil. On the rear wall is a second, large-scale projection of the word ‘Native’ – in English, Russian, Mandarin, and ‘Martian’ (A language which I have based on Esperanto, the artificially created international language, modified with Slavic and Asian influences). I have echoed the projection with an audio component – a computer generated voice speaking the definitions of the word ‘native’, in the same four languages.

In addition, there is a light-box plinth holding two ‘artifacts’ – a sample of Mars regolith prior to terraforming, and a sample of the first generation of seeds produced on Mars – in essence, the birth of the new natives. With these artifacts is also a botanical illustration of the Martian subspecies of lettuce.