The sky at night usually lends itself to photography rather than drawing, but this is probably because there is an element of the scientific in this subject. It is sometimes easier to make a more figurative rendition rather than an imaginative one if one is gazing out of the aperture of a telescope. Stargazing is creative - we want to find a truth of some kind...a real place, a real co-ordinate, a new and true star. Our eyes and telescope are more useful in this case than the fastest spaceship. And one of the places prone to the imagination of solitary artists like me who study the night sky with a view that we are not alone in the universe - is Mauna Kea, Hawaii.
The Mauna Kea Observatories (MKO) are independent astronomical research facilities and large telescope observatories that are located at the summit of Mauna Kea, in Hawaii. The facilities are located in a 525-acre special land use zone known as the "Astronomy Precinct", which is located within the Mauna Kea Science Reserve. The Astronomy Precinct was established in 1967 and is ideal because of its dark skies, good astronomical seeing, low humidity and and almost equatorial location.
I had read about Mauna Kea being a great "Dark Sky Site" to visit. But it actually became more real to me when I began work in the Judith Merril Collection of Science Fiction at Toronto Public Library and listened to librarian and science fiction expert Lorna Toolis - who was also my boss there at the time - share her interest for this place. Her enthusiasm and also that of my other colleagues there in general did it - and something clicked. The actual possibility of travelling to Mauna Kea became feasible. If this place was a real travel goal for for the science fiction library experts in Merril, then as an artist, I could go too.
Now, aside from this, a strange coincidence also happened recently. As I was checking my past blogs the other day, I realized that Jon Lomberg, who's fabulous Voyager project is housed in that same Merril Collection, had commented favorably on one of my blog posts, and offered me some encouragement.
Jon Lomberg is only the world's most experienced designer in creating messages for other times and other beings. The famous Voyager project is his creation and is an amazing example of what his work is about. Lomberg also just happens to live in Hawaii...on the slope of a volcano in south Kona, where he still makes art and looks at the stars.
So, my drawings are really tiny. They are usually detailed renderings in pencil on archival paper, and I try in my own small way, to express my ideas of a simultaneously intimate and imperious universe. But Jon Lomberg makes big art. He is the "Big Picture" man, and has been really out there for some time, inviting others to share his magnificent vision. I am sitting quietly at my desk writing this blog after finishing some archival enclosures for some of the wonderful treasures like Jon Lomberg's famous works that have recently been catalogued by the librarians here who have dedicated a lifetime to Science Fiction. I am a cataloguer in a different way. I take great pride in cataloguing my drawings of stars, not unlike the way librarians catalogue books.
Thanks to Merril and the librarians, I'm inspired. I will pursue my quest to visit Mauna Kea, a place where sky meets earth and where perhaps beings from other worlds hover fleetingly to get a first glimpse of ours.