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Tuesday, April 7, 1998 Published at 09:42 GMT 10:42 UK


Alien lands in Woking
image: [ The Martian strides through Woking ]
The Martian strides through Woking

The chances of anything coming from Mars were a million to one - and you should have had some money on it.

[ image: Martian weed spreads quickly]
Martian weed spreads quickly
A seven-metre-tall silver Martian has been spotted striding down a street in Woking in the heart of the English Home Counties.

The space invader is a new public art sculpture marking the culmination of a series of events celebrating the centenary of The War Of The Worlds - the famous novel by H.G. Wells.

Woking in Surrey was chosen as the location for the sculpture because of its histroical connections. H.G. Wells lived in the town and, according to the book, it was on nearby common land that the fictional invaders landed.

Life from Mars

Created by young British artist Michael Condron, the sculpture has been designed following the descriptions of Martians in H.G. Wells' novel, which tells the story of an alien invasion that threatens human existence.

[ image: Which way to Primrose Hill?]
Which way to Primrose Hill?
The artist has selected special subterranean lighting, moulded paving slabs and "Martian" plants to help create the perfect atmospheric environment.

"I began exploring the relationships between people and machines several years ago and have since used mechanisms that imitate human movement," said Mr Condron, who studied at Central Saint Martins College of Art.

"With the Woking sculpture, I have not produced a mechanical sculpture but have created a dynamic Martian out of large mirror polished stainless steel, set within a specially designed area with its own particular lighting, patterned paving and 'Martian Weed' planters."

Silver titan

Polished stainless steel reflects the "glittering titan" described in the novel.

[ image: Bacteria destroyed Martian supremacy]
Bacteria destroyed Martian supremacy
The general shape of the finished sculpture is the artists interpretation of vague descriptions taken from the novel, where it is described in various different ways - notably as a "hooded figure", "a great body of machinery" or having "articulate ropes of steel".

Mr Condron had to ensure that The Martian - as it will be known - looked convincing as a highly sophisticated structure that could survive hurtling through space before stalking the streets of Woking.

The sculpture's sleek, bright appearance was achieved by giving the whole structure a reflective chrome finish.

The sculpture is accompanied by numerous "bacteria" paving slabs spread around the town centre area where The Martian has been erected.

The bacteria can also be seen crawling up on of the legs towards the head of The Martian, suggesting the inevitable progress of earthly organisms against the seemingly invincible enemy. This reflects The War Of The Worlds theme that humanity is saved by a lower life-form, the bacteria, from the invading Martians, a higher life-form.

Also faithful to the book is the fact that the sculpture is set against a background of high buildings - the urban background described by Wells.


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