For two years, Steve Pyke pursued a lifelong ambition photographing many of the people that were integral to the American space programme that led to the first moon landing. Out of this work evolved the exhibiton ROCK BOX HAMMER.
"In July 1998 I stood in Al Bean's living room in Houston Texas, holding a hammer. (Al was the third man to walk on the moon's surface). This object for me made history come alive. It had been to the surface of the moon and back. I became fascinated by how inanimate objects can become imbued with an intangible presence. It raised the hair on the back of my neck. It was hard to come to terms with where it had been? As I travelled to meet more of the astronauts, I photographed other 'Artifacts', they had brought back from space - a piece of moon rock, the flight case that brought rock back from the moon, or the sole of the last boot to make contact with the moons surface".
Steve Pyke, in collaboration with the print making department at the Royal College of Art in London produced a collection of ten photo-etchings entitled ROCK BOX HAMMER. These images of space artifacts stand as reminders, totems, a testimony to the incredible adventure of landing a man on the moon.
Space means the new frontier - the place to advance our civilization in adventure, creativity, and knowledge - Ad Astra (to the stars)-will inspire everyone to forever reach upward and onward.
Los Angeles, December 1998
My experience on Apollo 8 helped me to see how isolated and fragile our earth really is. It was also beautiful. It was the only object in the entire universe that was not either black or white. The Apollo flight was also important from the standpoint of the state of the world. The Apollo 8 programme was a battle in the cold war. Apollo 8 was a victory over the Soviet Union and helped to insure freedom throughout the world.
Los Cruces, New Mexico, January 21 1999
I was ordered to Washington,D.C. in 1959 to listen to overtures about going into Space in a capsule on top of a rocket. I was not interested , and lost interest completely when it was added that they would launch monkeys and chimpanzees first. Later when in conversation with members of my peer group, I realized that if I ,as all fighter pilots, wanted to go higher, faster and farther this was the way. I left Earth three times and found no other place to go. Please take care of Spaceship Earth.
What does space mean to me? "Buckminster Fuller pointed out that to understand the human condition one must first understand the universe. A transcendent master will say that to understand the universe one must first understand oneself. They are both correct. We live in an intelligent, self organising universe in which the seeds of conscious existence evolved and flourished."