All photographs by Tatanja Ross
What captivated us into Ashley Ronning's illustrations were the clever mash-ups of plants and space icons. Also, we couldn't help but notice the reflective mood and link the dreamy elements with films by the renowned animator, Hayao Miyazaki and his film company, Studio Ghibli. Later, we learnt that Ashley has also been deeply influenced by science fiction films and novels, and incorporates her feelings from loneliness, personal growth and change.
"I remember being particularly terrified by the concept of space and the infinite. I felt horrible every time I thought about it. At some point, I realised it was something that should be embraced. That was a big turning point as I developed more motivation to create art again. Now it kind of feels special because it was freeing to come to that realisation. As for plants, I love that they have little minds of their own." — Ashley Ronning, Issue #1 of SAND
It has been awhile since we last spoke to the Brunswick, Melbourne based illustrator. Since then, she has participated in Think Pink by Enough Space—a group exhibition showcasing all works in that rosy, peachy, juicy hue. Of course, in a few days, Ashley will be on her second solo exhibition—No Place Like Space.
Hey Ashley, how was Think Pink?
Really fun! Everyone dressed in pink for the opening, and all the artwork was gorgeous. It was a really dreamy exhibition.
Where did you get the story idea behind No Place Like Space from?
I’d been thinking about making an exhibition about Earth’s first space colony, and then came across physicist Gerard K. O’Neill’s book, The High Frontier, which details his plan for the first colonies in space.
We previously discussed your love for female artists. Were there any pivotal figures in space exploration and aeronautics whom you were actively thinking about while creating the current pieces?
I named the base of my colony after Margaret Hamilton who was a software engineer for NASA’s Apollo programs, she’s incredible! I also admire science communicator Ann Druyan who co-wrote both seasons of Cosmos and was the creative director of the Voyager Interstellar Message Project.
The first actual words spoken from the surface of the Moon were “Contact light”, in 1969. What does that mean to you, as a contemporary illustrator reimagining life (or non-life) on space?
To me it sort of means ‘it’s real, it’s happening, it’s not a possibility anymore, it’s a reality’. Also, space is a vastness beyond anything we know, and endless discoveries to be made.
How do you see the future of space exploration?
It unfortunately depends a lot on the world wide political climate, which is in a pretty bleak place at the moment. It will be really interesting to see how private companies take on space exploration in the future.
What’s the most exciting thing you’ve learnt about space?
It's not exactly about space. Today, my housemate told me about time crystals. They are crystals that form in ‘time’ rather than in ‘space’ like regular crystals. Definitely worth googling!
More about No Place Like Space—