Artists' Spare Room | Sarah Fortais

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On May 23rd 1964, Jim Templeton took his wife and 5-year old daughter Elizabeth to Burgh Marsh for a pleasant afternoon of walking and picture taking, but when he got the images developed they were forced to come face to face with the unbelievable… what appeared to be an alien being.


Templeton was an amateur photographer and wanted to take some photos of their daughter Elizabeth in her new dress with his Kodak SLR. He claimed that it was a normal afternoon except for the fact that the cow and sheep that would normally have infested the field were all bunched together feeding on the far side of the marsh.


A few days later Templeton retrieved his photographs back from the chemist that had developed them. In passing, the chemist expressed his disappointment that “some idiot” had ruined what he believed to be the best shot of his daughter. Templeton, puzzled, looked at the photograph in question. What he saw was the image of what appeared to be a tall humanoid figure clad in a spacesuit jutting out at an odd angle from behind his daughter's head. […] The “spaceman” only showed up in the middle of the three consecutive photos he had shot and was “missing” from the first and last.

Templeton, hoping to get to the bottom of this mystery, reported the case to the police and sent the picture back to Kodak where it was exhaustively examined by trained professionals for any signs of faulty film stock, tampering, or hoax. They found none.


The executives at Kodak were so intrigued by this dilemma that they offered a reward of free film for a year to any person that could solve the mystery of how this “spaceman” got into the picture.

At the time of writing this blog entry — 60 years later — the reward remains unclaimed.

When I arrived at Penrith early Sunday evening of April 28th, 2024, I was unaware of the Cumbrian Spaceman; however, this and many such mysteries began to reveal themselves through the conversations I had with residents during my 6-day artist residency at Eden Arts.

Read on here.

Watch a short film of Sarah here.

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