Artist Luke Jerram unveils giant reproduction of Mars at West London church

Luke Jerram’s Mars on display at St John the Baptist Church, Shepherd’s Bush, London

Certainly one of the more striking projects to appear at this year’s Kensington & Chelsea Festival is Mars: War & Peace, the touring artwork by UK artist Luke Jerram. 

Walking into St John the Baptist Church off the busy Holland Road in Shepherd’s Bush, it felt like we had been transported literally into another world when we arrived for the official unveiling of the exhibition (Friday 21st June) .

Measuring seven metres in diameter and sitting in the middle of a fine-looking Grade 1 listed church – an interesting juxtaposition if ever there was one – it’s difficult not to be a little overawed by the massive installation. 

Featuring 120dpi detailed NASA imagery of the Martian surface at an approximate scale of 1:1 million, each centimetre of the internally lit and spinning spherical sculpture represents 10 kilometres of the surface of Mars.

The artwork allows us to study the surface of the red planet in perfect detail. Every valley, crater, volcano, and mountain are laid bare for us to inspect with the installation really coming to life as nightime closes in. Accompanying the Mars: War & Peace sculpture is a specially created sound composition by BAFTA and Ivor Novello award winning composer Dan Jones.

The beautiful St John The Baptist Church, Holland Road, London. New outdoor lights were blessed on the same evening that Luke Jerram’s Mars installation was unveiled

Featuring the sounds of seas, deserts and clips from NASA missions to Mars, it also incorporates the disturbing noises of distant bombing and people marching, as if to war. This new soundtrack has been designed to give visitors the opportunity to reflect on the current conflict in Ukraine and the history and notion of war (Mars being the God of War of course to the ancient Romans, if not to the Christian worshippers at this church!)

Mars: War & Peace follows the successful appearance of Luke Jerram’s previous works at the Kensington and Chelsea Festival which attracted up to 3,000 visitors per day. This summer will be the first time that Mars: War & Peace has been installed in a Church setting and a new soundscape has been created especially for the festival.

 The installation will appear at three different sites across the festival: 

  • St John the Baptist Church (W14 8AH) from Saturday 22 to Sunday 30 July 2023 
  • All Saints’ Church (W11 1JS) from Monday 31 July to Tuesday 8 August
  • Jubilee Square (W8 7NX) – an outdoor setting on from Thursday 10 August to Sunday 13 August
  • Tickets will be required, but all locations will be free to visit.

Full details: 

Chris Price