Guest Artist: Sam Jefferies
We caught up with Sam Jefferies ahead of working together on some upcoming can designs. You can expect to see Sam's art on our cans through the summer!
Sam is an artist and music producer from and currently living in Leeds who paints otherworldly vistas about the life of Yuri Gagarin and is a close friend of the brewery from what seems like a lifetime ago. He is currently working on the final pieces in his series about the famous cosmonaut and first man in space with an aim to exhibit his work in the next year or so. We thought you’d like to see his work on our cans and as Sam is a beer lover too the collaboration was a no brainer.
How did you get involved with working with Turning Point Brew Co?
Well I used to work with Cam at the Falcon Tap in York oh so long ago which is where I also met the beautiful being that is Aron. I saw Turning Point’s shoots appear and develop and it’s honestly been such a pleasure to watch friends succeed and excel doing something they love (and that I can drink).
Where does the inspiration for your artwork come from?
I’ve been obsessed with space travel for as long as I can remember but when I really started researching into it I realised that the Western centric narrative we all live in seems to forget, or at least push to the side, the fact that it was the Russians who were the first (by quite a big margin) to get a man into space. When I started to look into the man under the helmet I realised that Yuri Gagarin was one of the most fascinating characters in history. He was deeply charming, had a wonderful smile that people always commented on, and came from a peasant background in the Russian countryside 100 miles from Moscow. The fact that a boy, who grew up without electricity, was the first person in space in a country rebuilding itself after the horrors of the second world war is one of those great human stories of adversity against the odds that would struggle to not inspire even the most ardent anti communist!
There is clearly a narrative between the various pieces of artwork you have produced so far. Do you have an idea of where the story is going, or do you work it out one piece at a time?
The story plays on the problems Yuri had after coming back to earth and the subsequent coup where Khrushchev was removed from power by Brezhnev and the Politburo in 1964. Yuri Gagarin was close to Khrushchev and thus seen as a being the face of the old regime. He was sidelined by the new administration and told he was never going to be allowed to blast off from Earth ever again under the guise of looking out for his safety. The story I’ve created exists in a world where Yuri, in collaboration with other members of the Soviet space race, flies off in a secret mission and ends up hurtling through a wormhole and into a different galaxy and subsequently landing on a planet called Toierra. The planet is in Turmoil caused by the technological inequality between different sects of the same species; one of which has augmented themselves with cybernetics and the other who have effectively become a slave caste doing their mechanised masters’ bidding. Yuri’s arrival on the planet becomes the catalyst for revolution and change which is starting to brew by the end of the first chapter and series of paintings soon to be completed. I had a decent idea about where the story was going to start but it now becomes more murky and I’m currently working out how the second and third chapters will bring the story round to finish in a satisfactory manner.
Some of the pieces have been used as artwork for music you have created or been involved in. Does the music you produce coincide with the story at all? How does it all tie together?
Yeah so I’ve been making music for years now and it seemed appropriate to try and soundtrack each of the paintings as much for my own benefit as everyone else’s. I’ve found its really helped me have more self assurance about the immersion of the story and I hope the tracks do that for anyone who listens to them. I released the first EP ‘Reflections On A Daring Escape’ in September 2020 which uses the same artwork as we’ve used for the Big Beat Manifesto Cans. This can be found both digitally and as a 12” record on my Bandcamp page, the link to which you can find through my Facebook or Instagram. The second entitled ‘The Watchers In The Trees’ is scheduled for release in September this year with others to follow.
If someone wanted to properly immerse themselves in the story you are trying to tell with your artwork, what music or film/TV should they watch whilst drinking the beer?
Ohh difficult, I’ve been watching the cold war series produced by the BBC in the late 90’s after the wall fell which is brilliant, really insightful and best of all balanced. It’s highly critical of both the west and the USSR through the period of 1945 - 1989. A great album to listen to (apart from my own music obviously) would probably be Global Communication –Blood Music: Pentamerous Metamorphosis which is one of the most incredible spacey bits of ambient music I’ve ever heard. For something a bit more upbeat Mothership Connection by Parliament would definitely be a shout. Film wise it would have to be a Toss up between Blade Runner, Brazil or Escape from New York. Book wise there is a brand new biography of the big man published to coincide with the 60th Anniversary of Yuri’s adventure which is called Beyond by Stephen Walker. I’m about half way through and completely gripped.
Do you think Yuri Gagarin would prefer New England IPAs or Imperial Stouts?
Maybe if Imperial Stouts where rebranded Russian Collectivist Stouts Yuri would be more inclined to go dark.
Where can people find out more about what you do?
My Instagram and Facebook pages are the best places to go, the links to which can be found on the wonderful cans that Turning Point have produced. These have links to the few prints I have for sale as well as my Bandcamp page for music.