To Mars and back – in a day

We had a real treat on Monday – a trip to Mars! Of course, faster-than-light travel not being a Thing yet, this wasn’t to the real planet. But it was almost as special, and slightly easier to get to.

The Winter Gardens in Morecambe has been hosting a giant moving sculpture of Mars for several weeks now. The artwork, created by Luke Jerram, consists of a giant sphere with a photo-realistic rendition of the Martian surface, cleverly suspended so that it rotates like a real planet would. The same artist has already done exhibitions featuring Earth and the Moon, which have toured around the country, but we kept missing them, so we were determined to get to this one.

And we made it, with one day to spare! And it was a magical experience. The main hall in the Winter Gardens was dark, apart from red lights above and to the sides which gave the surface a slight, unearthly red tinge and picked out the terrain beautifully. The experience was atmospheric enough to make me feel surprisingly emotional, and although there was a musical soundtrack playing in the background, my main sense was one of awed silence as it seemed to have the same effect on all the visitors.

The Winter Gardens was an excellent choice for the exhibition as it’s a stunning building in its own right. A former Victorian theatre with incredible architectural details, it’s since fallen on hard times but is in the (admittedly slow) process of being restored. I hope they finish it because it really deserves to be seen and enjoyed by more people.

Outside the late afternoon autumn sunshine made Morecambe promenade look particularly scenic, with the tide in and the sea an eerie pale blue colour that I’ve never seen it before. We walked for over a mile, taking photographs and enjoying the fresh air, and it was a lovely end to a fascinating afternoon.

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