Gagarin in Britain
In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the First Manned Space Flight and the installation of the Yuri Gagarin statue on the Mall, the British Council presents Gagarin in Britain, an exhibition on the life of Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin and the early Soviet space programme.
The exhibition showcases some extremely rare space items from the Vostok ('East'), manned space programme rarely seen in Britain: the first space suit – SK-1, including the padded inner lining, blue rubberised pressure-suit and outer orange layer; and an ejector seat of the model used by Gagarin when he parachuted out of Vostok 1 at an altitude of 7km. These exhibits are complimented by Soviet posters from the Moscow Museum of Cosmonautics; a film made by Roscosmos showing original footage of the early training programme and the 1961 launch itself; a model of Sputnik, the first artificial satellite in the world, launched in October l957; an array of space food; and one of the earliest dog space suits, used prior to man’s first spaceflight to test the capacity of living creatures in space. As there are few items from the early Soviet space programme on view in the UK, this is an exceptional opportunity to see some of the earliest space items, which marked the launch of man’s venture into space.
Accompanying the artefacts is a photographic exhibition telling the story of Gagarin’s life, featuring over 80 photographs from the Gagarin family archive and other sources, many never been published before. They show the small town of Klushino where Gagarin was born; the devastation brought about by the Nazi occupation; and the tale of a young man of modest beginnings gradually becoming a pilot, then a cosmonaut, then – within an instant of his return to earth – the most famous man on the planet. A special section is devoted to Gagarin’s visit to Britain from 11 to 15 July 1961, with photographs of the extraordinary welcome given to him by the British public, and of his meeting with politicians and people alike.
A transparent, flexible plastic material, usually of cellulose acetate or polyester, on which light-sensitive emulsion is coated, or on which an image can be formed by various transfer processes.
An artwork comprised of many and various elements of miscellaneous materials (see mixed media), light and sound, which is conceived for and occupies an entire space, gallery or site. The viewer can often enter or walk around the installation. Installations may only exist as long as they are installed, but can be re-created in different sites. Installation art emerged in the 1960s out of Environmental Art (works of art which are three-dimensional environments), but it was not until the 1970s that the term came into common use and not until the late 1980s that artists started to specialise in this kind of work, creating a genre of ‘Installation Art’. The term can also be applied to the arrangement of selected art works in an exhibition.