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The Vauxhall Collective: UK Creatives Exhibit their Commissions

Photographs of the Scottish landscape inspired by Daguerre’s dioramas , a film that visits the self-declared King of the British Eccentrics, an art exhibition inspired by Funhouses, a 1950s tea party followed by a 1980s wedding reception, a glamorous, metallic leather driving set and a collection of design objects based on lost British craft techniques; these are the results of the six commissions from the Vauxhall Collective, and arts initiative from Vauxhall Motors, based on the theme of the Great British Road Trip.

Gayle Chong Kwan, Holyrood Palace, Senscape Scotland, 2009. ©Gayle Chong Kwan

The Vauxhall Collective members who have created these commissions, and now show them together for the first time, are; the innovative product designer Simon Hasan for craft & design, the much-admired shoe designer Jonathan Kelsey for fashion, artist and independent film maker Ben Rivers for film, hotly anticipated artist Matthew Darbyshire for fine art, experimental photographer and artist Gayle Chong Kwan for photography and Gideon Reeling, purveyor of bespoke interactive experiences, enlisted for the theatre category.

As part of its ongoing commitment to style and design, car company Vauxhall identified six of the brightest creative stars and gave them a commission, to help them take their careers to the next level. This was done in conjunction with a Style Council made up of arts industry experts from organisations such as the Photographers’ Gallery, BFI, Hayward Gallery, Soho Theatre and the London College of Fashion. The result is six varied and exciting commissions from the hottest artistic talent around, all celebrating the Great British Road Trip.

• Ben Rivers
Filmmaker Ben Rivers has produced a short film called I know where I’m going. Travelling the length and breadth of the UK for two months, Ben battled the snow storms the UK suffered earlier this year in his Zafira to bring us snapshots of some of the most eccentric, and intriguing, individuals in Britain. The film will be shown throughout the exhibition and was debuted at the Edinburgh International Film Festival this June.

Fine Art
• Matthew Darbyshire
Matthew Darbyshire, who exhibited at the Tate Triennial this year, created Funhouse with the commission Vauxhall gave him, after going on a research road trip of his own in an Astra. Shown at the Hayward Gallery Project Space this summer, the show is a comment on the gaudy pop culture we face today, from New Labour regenerative architecture to reproductions of design classics ever present in mobile phone shops. Several pieces from the show Funhouse will be on display in the gallery.

• Gayle Chong Kwan
Gayle Chong Kwan explores her Scottish heritage with Senscape Scotland, a panoramic sensory journey around Scotland, creating a series of photographs inspired by Daguerre’s dioramas. Chong Kwan visited the places Daguerre depicted, such as the Roslyn Chapel just outside Edinburgh and Skara Brae in Orkney, in a Corsa ecoFLEX and collected food stuffs from the bed and breakfasts she stayed in, such as coffee granules, and used them to create scenes back at her studio. All six photographs in the series can be seen at the exhibition.

• Gideon Reeling
The wonderfully eccentric Gideon Reeling invited audiences to have tea with the 1950s family “The Skinners”, with a resplendent 1950s Cresta pride of place outside their house, and then fast forwarded through time to the 1980s to hold a wedding reception, with a classic Cavalier ready to whisk the happy couple away. The performances, based on the major family occasions that so often inspire road trips, took the viewer deep into the heart of the action as audiences became part of the show, as guests of the hospitable Skinner family. A video of the wedding reception will be shown on loop throughout the exhibition, along with photographs of the performances.

Craft and Design
• Simon Hasan
The craft and design category saw Simon Hasan taking a road trip across the UK to rediscover ancient and lost craft techniques unique to the British Isles. His discoveries in a Corsa, lead him to applying these techniques to a series of modern design items, including a stool featuring embroidery, tweed and a vase made from cast iron. The pieces will be shown as a set at the exhibition, and are also available to buy through the Vauxhall Collective website.

• Jonathan Kelsey
Jonathan Kelsey loved the idea of glamour associated with road trips and so produced a limited run of luxury driving sets including key fob, driving gloves and steering wheel cover in his trademark chestnut and gold leather , finished with heavy black stitching. The pieces will be shown as a set at the exhibition and are also available to buy through the Vauxhall Collective website.

The Vauxhall Collective is one of the most ambitious commerciallyfunded creative support schemes in the UK.

Members of the Vauxhall Collective are supported financially to carry out projects, consequently raising their profile in the industry and in the media, and giving them the resources to fulfil their creative potential.

A host of leading industry opinion formers from arts institutions including the Photographers’ Gallery, BFI, Film London, Crafts Council, Donmar Warehouse, The Hayward, ICA, London College of Fashion and Central St Martins formed a “Style Council” to make the decision on the commissions.

The Vauxhall Collective for 2008/09 is: Simon Hasan for craft & design, Jonathan Kelsey for fashion, Ben Rivers for film, Gayle Chong Kwan for photography, Gideon Reeling for theatre and Matthew Darbyshire for fine art.

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