In Pictures: UK Russia Year of Space kicks off as Yuri Gagarin statue unveiled in London

By Culture24 Staff | 14 July 2011
A photo of a man in a suit giving a speech
Prince Michael of Kent was on hand at the Mall in London today (July 14 2011) to unveil a statue of Yuri Gagarin, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Russian cosmonaut behind the first manned space flight© Frank Noon
A photo of a man in a suit giving a speech
The impressive recreation of Gagarin is a gift from the Russian Federal Space Agency to the British Council, heralding the UK Russia Year of Space, a programme of creative and educational projects between the two countries. Vladimir Popovkin, the head of the Agency, spoke at the ceremony© Frank Noon
A photo of a woman standing on a plinth
Gagarin's daughter, Elena, is Director of the Kremlin Museums. "I am very proud to be unveiling a statue to my father in a city that welcomed him so warmly 50 years ago, and delighted that the spirit of adventure and the imaginative leap into the unknown which his flight exemplified are being honoured by Londoners today," she said.© Frank Noon
A photo of a man and a woman unveiling a tall statue
Exactly 50 years to the day since Gagarin met the Queen as part of a visit to the UK, the statue begins a 12-month stint at the Mall© Frank Noon
A photo of a crowd looking at a tall statue being unveiled
The statue was commissioned in 1984 by the small town of Lyubertsy, just outside Moscow, where Gagarin trained as a foundry worker as a teenager. It was made by Anatoly Novikov, one of the chief sculptors of the Stalingrad Memorial (now the Volgograd Memorial)© Frank Noon
A photo of a statue under a blue sky
Gagarin's doppelganger will face a statue of Captain Cook on the opposite side of the Mall. The original work remains a site of pilgrimage for cosmonauts before they travel into space, and the version in London is an exhibition copy© Frank Noon
Watch a message from the crew of the International Space Station and a celebration of Yuri Gagarin's first orbit:



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