Some creative souls reach great heights. Others go beyond even that – like Canberra artist Barbara van der Linden, whose work is, if all goes according to plan, destined to land on the moon.
The original idea of billionaire adventurer Elon Musk, a documentary on Barbara’s work, and that of a couple of hundred other artists telling their stories, was destined for the moon aboard SpaceX.
Artist and filmmaker Graeme Stevenson was told by NASA and the SpaceX team that his short documentaries featuring artists talking about why they paint what they paint ticked all the boxes when it came to creating a ‘Moon Museum’ in a time capsule.
The idea, he said, was to present a snapshot of life on Earth at the time, covering everything from our culture to how we spend our time.
“I think the plan was to record things like art, adventure … what was happening on Earth at the time in case we destroyed the planet,” Barbara said.
Graeme originally told ABC Radio that the plan was for a selection of the documentaries, which are shown on TV around the world as Colour In Your Life, to be nickel-plated onto a hard drive to withstand the Moon’s gamma rays and then placed into a time capsule.
They were intended to go on the Rover craft that was scheduled to travel to the Moon, but a launch failure put the project on hold. Barbara hasn’t given up hope, though – it has since been rescheduled for November this year, but is yet to be confirmed.
At age 74 and living with Parkinson’s disease, Barbara said she “isn’t painting like I used to … I have to do smaller pieces now” but is still hopeful that the Moon mission will happen.
“When I first heard that my work was part of the museum that was going to the Moon, it made me feel really good,” she said.
“Because I have Parkinson’s and can’t paint the same anymore, to have my work included in this means a lot to me … it’s sort of like the crowning glory.
“It doesn’t really get better than this.
“I remember when I first went to art school in Melbourne and my teacher at the time told me I’d never make it as an artist.”
Barbara said although it was a shame the Moon mission was delayed, she was optimistic it would go ahead because “the idea is out there now”.
There are days, Barbara says, that she does consider packing painting in, but says the support she receives from the group she set up in 2003, the Marsden Art Group, usually talks her out of it. It’s a community-based art group, created to support emerging artists, share skills, knowledge and resources – as well as support each other.
“I had trouble with my arm shaking so now I just do smaller pieces – that helps.”
Barbara also continues to exhibit her work: the next will be in Exposed, the latest exhibition by members of the Marsden Art Group at Queanbeyan’s Rusten House, which opens this Saturday, 6 May.
A group exhibition, the show focuses on the themes of vulnerability, revelation and the natural world. Exposed will feature the work of artists – Barbara van der Linden, Ian Baird, Julie Delves, Margaret Gordon, Margaret Kalms, Val Gee, Marilyn Hutchinson, Liz Dovey and Susan Hey.
The works on display showcase the artists’ diverse talents, from printmaking to painting, ceramics, watercolours and mixed media.
Exposed opens at Rusten House Art Centre in Queanbeyan from Saturday, 6 May until 27 May 2023, from 10 am to 4 pm daily. Entry is free.
For more information, visit the Rusten House website.