I went to London twice a few weeks ago. The second time was to sit on the Children’s Writers and Illustrator’s Group – (CWIG) – at the Society of Authors, which is like the writer’s trade union, I suppose.
I had a bit of time to nip into the Science museum on the Way, As I’d heard that they had bought the British Astonaut, Tim Peake’s Soyuz Space ship – for an undisclosed sum – and that it had gone on display just that morning. So, While I was there, I thought I would film a load of things to give me ideas for what to draw on future videos. What do you think? Do they give you ideas?
I was mad about space when I was a child. I was just old enough to be aware of the excitement of Yuri Gagarin being the first man in space. My early years were dominated by Fireball XL5, Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet, Telstar, zoom ice lollies, Mercury, Gemini and Apollo.
In amongst all the National Geographics, the books I read, programs I watched and bubble gum cards I collected there were tantalising glimpses of there Russian space program.
We were given so little information that it seemed both glamourous and crude at the same time. The Russians always managed to be one step ahead of the Americans. The Cosmonaut exhibition explained much. By keeping the program secret, the Americans were pushed to keep innovating. Many of the Russian “advances” were in fact risky and crude propaganda missions aimed mostly at wrong footing the Americans.
When the Americans introduced the Two seater Gemini craft, the Russians removed the ejector seat from Voshkod and squeezed three people in the same tiny space – most uncomfortable!
Sputnik 3 was my favourite exhibit. It created wonderful, moody shadows across the walls, which I was compelled to paint. It also looks like a proper space craft, with all the wonderful design of it’s time, which I always felt was an inspiration for the Mercury capsule.
I also learned about Russian Cosmos which a sort of spiritual philosophy that was at the beginning and heart of the Russian desire to reach out into space. The visionary Tsiliovsky’s sketches were entertaining and prescient too.