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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Vostok 5 at The Outside World Gallery: an interview with Darren Hayman

Discover how an obsession with outer space led to this collaborative exhibition which commemorates both man and beast in space. It's on now, so catch it whilst you can!

Written by Amelia Gregory

Bobik (Big Bull) by Darren Hayman.png
Bobik (Big Bull) by Darren Hayman.

Vostok 5 officially opens at The Outside World Gallery today. The exhibition pays respects to the animals and humans who have been into space, what is ed so I asked Darren Hayman what prompted him to explore such intriguing subject matter.

Malyshka (Little One) by Darren Hayman.png
Malyshka (Little One) by Darren Hayman.

How did you get together with your fellow Vostok 5 artists to create the concept of your new exhibition? 
I had thought of doing an exhibition for some time but didn’t have the courage to do it on my own. I wanted to share the risk with other musicians who do painting on the side. Although Sarah is perhaps an artist who does music on the side.

Can you tell us a little bit about each of the Vostok 5? Who are they and what was their specific area of interest in putting this exhibition together?

Paul Rains
Paul Rains is the guitarist in Allo Darlin and a songwriter in his own right in Hexicon. For the exhibition he has done bright, bold artwork about Alexei Leonov, a Russian Cosmonaut who took his drawing pencils into Space with him.

Vostok 5 duncan barrett
Earth by Duncan Barrett
moon Wernher Von Braunby Duncan Barrett
Duncan Barrett is from Tigercats. Tigercats play guitar music that you can dance to, honestly. Duncan has made beautiful lino cut prints of Wernher von Braun and Sergei Korolev, the US and Russian chief rocket designers.

Sam Vostok 5
Robert Rotifer space canteen
Robert Rotifer is a big deal in Austria and he might be one here soon. His new album was recorded by Wreckless Eric and is being released by Edwyn Collins in the Autumn. He painted Space monkeys.

Sarah Lippett Vostok 5
Sarah Lippett Vostok 5
Sarah Lippett is the best artist amongst us and her comic about the life of Yuri Gagarin is the most impressive piece in the exhibition. We all agree on that. She also plays bass in the dark, dense Fever Dream.

What was it that first fascinated you about space flight and how old were you? was there a seminal book that you read or movie that inspired your obsession and if so what?
I think for my age, being born in the 1970s it was the most natural thing to be excited about space travel. I can’t remember ever not knowing how the different sections of how an Apollo rocket worked. Star Wars in 1977 probably helped. The definitive book about space flight when I was growing up was Andrew Chaikin‘s A Man on the Moon.

Soviet stamp vostok 5
Do you collect space ephemera? and if so what kind of stuff do you have?
I have a lot of Russian Space Dog stamps that are in the exhibition but I lack the patience and stamina to be a proper collector.

Krasavka by Darren Hayman
Over the course of your research has there been any one story of an animal in space that has stood out and if so what was it?
Krazavka (Little Beauty) had a hell of a mission with Damka in 1960. Their mission was plagued with system failures and eventually their space flight was orbited but on decent their ejection seat device also failed and they landed with their capsule set to a 60 hour self-destruct. When their frozen capsule was discovered there were no signs of life and the rescuers were unable to gain access. The next morning however barks were heard and the dogs were freed.

Space dog stamp
What makes you most mad, on hearing the stories of these animals who were unable to make any decisions of their own?
Probably, the fact that in historical accounts you are told over and over again how much Korolev and the scientists loved the dogs. Coupled with the statues, stamps and tributes it strikes me that they are looking for justifications themselves.

Space dog stamp
You’ve been a vegetarian for many years, are there any other conscious decisions that you make in every day life which are affected by how you feel about animal cruelty? 
Actually it’s only two years. I became a vegetarian when I was 39 and as such this prevents me from being overly pious. I enjoy it though. I like having something to believe in but I hope my meat eating friends will confirm that I haven’t become a nag.

Belyanka and Pestraya by Darren Hayman
Belyanka and Pestraya by Darren Hayman.

I seem to remember that you have a dog: do you still have a dog? And do you have any other animals in your life at the moment, if so who?
Beulah is ten now but still seems very much like a young dog. She is the only animal in my life.

What can listeners expect to hear on the Vostok 5 commemorative album?
Despite having 5 different artists on it, it doesn’t sound like a compilation album. The shared subject matter provides a fragmented narrative. It’s sadder and more emotional than you might expect.

You have said that the exhibition is ‘for people who love rockets and animals‘. What is your hope for the future of animals in science?
Despite what I said earlier about not wanting to bug my meat eating friends my personal feelings about animal experimentation etc. have become increasingly hardline. I’m still finding my way through the ethics but I find it tough to see why human’s ever thought they were entitled to these assumed rights.

Space dog stamp purple
My thoughts about what we do in Space have changed a lot as I’ve gotten older as well. I can still access my childhood wonder but really I don’t care if we never go up there again now. Human’s, en masse, are such horrible creatures with what we do to each other. We don’t deserve the right to escape Earth and we certainly can’t afford it.

What else are you currently working on? Any exciting plans for the rest of the year?
The Ship’s Piano an album of piano ballads for people who can’t stand loud noises. Out in October. Christmas in Haworth, a six track mini Christmas album. The physical release of January Songs. It’s all go.

You can visit Vostok 5 until the 7th of September, and here’s my full listing.

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