The winner of ESA’s ‘Graffiti without Gravity’ street art competition has left a permanent mark on the Agency’s technical heart, with this mural on the wall next to ESA’s Compact Antenna Test Range.
Irish street artist Shane Sutton won the Graffiti without Gravity competition in May. Jointly organised by ESA and the Hague Street Art, 10 top street artists from across Europe competed live to create artworks across 2x2 m canvases.
Then, as a result, ESA’s antenna testing team invited Shane to decorate the entrance to their Compact Antenna Test Range (CATR), used to test satellite antennas in space-like conditions.
“This gave me more than six times bigger than the competition canvas to work with,” says Shane. “And the wall incorporates a corner, so I included related images on each side. It’s fun to paint such a large work – for me it’s all about giving things a go.”
It took Shane two and a half days to finish. The mural shows an astronaut in contact with ESA’s Rosetta mission like someone holding a puppet on string, representing the use of antennas – essential to link space missions with their homeworld. Its background shows the ‘anechoic’ foam spikes that line the walls of the CATR, serving to absorb radio signals and reproduce the boundless void of space.
He explains: “For what I call my ‘Spacer’ paintings I like to use the narrative of ‘that space in between’ – which I describe as the place after you leave but before you get there. It’s somewhere we all go at some point and I like to represent this through faceless astronaut paintings.
“The idea for the artwork gets sketched out first, then I scale it up for the space using a grid, adding different colours to the various blocks as I go, with pure white coming last.”