“What particularly impressed me about The Williamson is the huge amount of quality gallery space we can utilise - almost 4,000sq ft - so I knew we could put a huge exhibition on here.”
Space is everything to Andy Saunders. Not just gallery space; the north-west native’s Sunday Times bestseller, Apollo Remastered, was an instant hit when launched, garnering global praise and smashing our own personal ‘top five coffee-table books’ list.
Apollo Remastered was propelled into the stratosphere in 2022 and also orbits the world as a celebrated exhibition. Andy’s restored images of the lunar voyages have recently been displayed in London, Scotland and the UAE.
Now, the exhibit’s landing at the Williamson Art Gallery & Museum between April and September, and we’re over the moon. We think it’s one small step to creating a whole new generation of lunar-tics on the left bank; kids and adults alike.
“I was especially keen to host the exhibition at a north-west venue,” Andy tells us.
“The curators also really got the project and are as keen as I am to adapt the space as much as possible to really create an atmosphere suitable for these images and the subject matter.
“From the colour scheme, to the lighting and even audio - I really want people to feel like they've gone back in time and are making the journey to the moon themselves.”
For the first time in 50 years the original lunar voyage flight films (rather than duplicates) have been digitally scanned.
Writer and image-restoration specialist Andy applied the latest digital processing techniques to these scans to produce highly-detailed, upscaled versions of the footage taken by NASA’s astronauts all those years ago.
So, we’ll be that guy. Which pic is his favourite?
“It’s so difficult to choose a favourite image. I like so many for many different reasons. They took 35,000, so even whittling those down to 400 for the book was a near-impossible task.
“There are images of historical significance; images that reveal something entirely new; images that instantly convey the awe-inspiring nature of human-space exploration… There are so many that are simply stunning.”
Andy is also giving talks at the gallery on 12 May and 20 August, where he’ll likely provide a fascinating insight into the no-doubt extremely careful and delicate process of restoring and digitising NASA’s historical images.
For Andy though, it isn’t so much the voyages and the images that capture his imagination, but how NASA’s missions broke the boundaries of human achievement, and opened up a whole new universe of possibility for mankind.
“What better subject matter than fellow humans doing extraordinary things with the backdrop of 1960s spacecraft and scenes that are literally other-worldy?” he says.
“There are panoramic shots that show the scale and grandeur of the lunar landscape, but I think it’s the moments that capture the human side to the missions… these intimate, candid moments that I’ve managed to reveal.
“The Armstrong image [that was released in 2019] will be difficult to beat because of historical significance, but the photograph of Jim McDivitt on the cover of the book has it all.
“It's such an atmospheric, cinematic portrait and it's an image that was in such a bad state before. It was so rarely seen, and it’s a very historic moment.”
28 April – 2 September 2023
Williamson Art Gallery & Museum, Birkenhead, CH43 4UE