The average commercially funded creative initiative, in which a global brand asks artists and designers to create works inspired by a product, will fail to forge reputations. The Vauxhall Collective is different, annually offering four or five designers and artists a car and £20 000 each to travel around the UK and create pieces based on a loose theme.
The result is high-quality, challenging work from respected names such as Gareth Neal, Matthew Darbyshire and Jonathan Kelsey. Three years into its lifespan, the initiative is looking back with a retrospective at the Idea Generation Gallery in London.
The show revisits shoe designer Kelsey’s 2008 luxury driving set, including a steering wheel cover crafted from metallic leather, driving gloves and key fob. The work is unusual for having a literal connection to cars. In the same year, artist Matthew Darbyshire’s anti-corporate work used the colour palette and lexicon of contemporary interior design to comment on state-sanctioned or commercial ’fun’.
This year’s theme was the ’great British weekend’, prompting Italian artist Maurizio Anzeri to create a surreal garden party of hirsute guests made from synthetic hair, painstakingly handstitched together. Furniture designer Gareth Neal, meanwhile, created incredibly intricate wooden seating that appeared at a series of pop-up picnics in East London this summer.
All 14 projects will be brought together in a room for the first time this week, showing how a private sponsor can help emerging talent create new work – and boost its own reputation.
The Vauxhall Collective: Three Years On runs until 7 November at Idea Generation Gallery, London E2