We went down the the Olympic Park over the weekend to check out the event Art Moves. An event celebrating the extraordinary world of mobile art vehicles, bringing twenty-five of the most ingenious and inventive art vehicles together, offering a unique showcase of mobile architecture and art as part of London’s Open House weekend. From a giant travelling seagull, to a bright red theatre for six, a pineapple car and wooden conch, this collection of vehicles selected was a visual experience that also prompted further thought into some of society’s most pressing issues such as sustainability, new modes of architecture and transport, and how we interact with one another.
Art Moves was conceived as the culmination of ELMO (East London Mobile Workshop), a year long artist in residence programme, commissioned by Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in 2013. Over the course of 12 months, the ELMO team delivered a programme of arts and crafts workshops from a beautifully converted 1970s Bedford Bus transformed into a roaming artist’s studio. ELMO was developed with the awareness that taking art on the road (or on the water) has been a practice used by artists for decades across the world, as a way of engaging with new audiences and developing new work that could not be shown in a gallery or museum.
In addition to the twenty-five vehicles on show, Art Moves brought together a range of other pioneering artists to discuss their mobile projects and to explore how mobile practices have contributed to culture-led regeneration across the world. The free film and talks programme included the late Mike Kelley’s ‘Going West on Michigan Avenue from Downtown Detroit to Westland’ on The Floating Cinema and talks from internationally renowned artists such as Nils Norman, Walker & Bromwich, and Mexican artist Andres Domene.
Bringing these projects and artists together marked an important moment to reflect on the role artists have played in both urban and rural areas, and to explore how art can continue contributing to regeneration, community cohesion and ideas for the future.
Here are some pics of our adventures there and some info on the artists we met –
The Poetry Potting Shed
A characterful and charming home for ‘Spoke’ – a wide reaching poetry and spoken word project which has engaged with hundreds of young people in east London over the last year.
Home to Warsan Shire, the first ever young Poet Laureate for London during a summer residency on the Park as well as accommodating all manner of workshops and drop-in poetry sessions, ‘The Poetry Shed’ has been a mobile resource which has hosted creative writing and spoken word in different locations around the Park. During Art Moves, ‘The Poetry Shed’ presents an archive and exhibition of a year of poetry, where audiences can read new work by some of the best young poets writing in London today.
The Honesty Stall by Karen Guthrie and Nina Pope, Abbey Gardens.
Artists Karen Guthrie and Nina Pope of Somewhere were commissioned (2008) to develop a long-term project at Abbey Gardens, a protected site in East London, not far from the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. ‘What Will The Harvest Be?’ transformed a neglected wasteland into a unique, open-access Harvest Garden where anyone can grow and harvest flowers, fruit and vegetables. Abbey Garden’s Honesty Stall vehicle, commissioned in 2010 from Somewhere and designed by public works, sells garden and artist-made produce to passers-by.
The Bureau of Silly Ideas -‘The Pineapple Car’ and ‘The Big Micheal Foot’
ELMO (East London Mobile Workshop), a beautifully converted Bedford Bus, functions as a roaming artists studio, delivering a programme of free, inspiring arts and crafts workshops led by some of London’s leading artists, designers and makers, with the aim of encouraging other people to make. Realised as a collaboration between Studio Weave, Nous Vous, Artlands and Hunt and Gather, ELMO has spent the last year travelling in and around the Park delivering a programme that has included printmaking workshops by Kate Gibb, The London Centre for Book Arts and Hato Press; filmmaking by No-W-Here; musical instrument making with Studio Dentaku; furniture making with Sebastian Cox; ceramics with Laura Carlin and graphic design with Nous Vous. During ‘Art Moves’, ELMO will hosted a final design workshop led by Nous Vous and an exhibition of documentation and artworks produced throughout the year.
‘The Domestic Mining Kiosk’ is a unique, portable, plastic recycling resource, where participants can turn unwanted plastic into marvellous new creations. Envisioned as a pop-up workshop, the Kiosk exists to educate and remind the public about the potential uses of plastic. During ‘Art Moves’ the Kiosk was used to produce flat pack watches made from recycled materials
some examples of what treasures were recorded.
Devised and created by Nicole Mollett, ‘The Kent Cultural Baton’ is a beautifully converted 50’s American airstream caravan that has travelled Kent since 2012, gathering people’s stories, myths and legends to help create an alternative map of the County. During ‘Art Moves artists Maggie Rose and Nicole Mollett produced a new installation inside the Baton, inspired by the Shell Grotto in Margate. To accompany the work there will be a souvenir shop, containing specially commissioned Kent artists’ souvenirs.
‘The Conch’ is a futuristic caravan by Walker and Bromwich, or time capsule for a new environment, drawing on the aesthetics of 1950′s ‘Airstream’ design and the pioneering eco-communities of the 1960s. Part shell / part ark, constructed from larch and housed on a car trailer, the conch is a travelling and evolving sound archive, where the public can be interviewed by the Conch Guardian about their ideas for a sustainable society and future living, or sit and listen to the collected voices of other visitors.
‘The Caravan Gallery‘is a mobile exhibition venue and visual arts project led by Jan Williams and Chris Teasdale, established to document the ordinary and extraordinary details of everyday life. Eager to examine clichés and cultural trends, the Gallery is particularly drawn to the absurd anomalies and curious juxtapositions typical of places in transition and in the process of reinventing themselves as regeneration fever spreads. Simultaneously seduced by and suspicious of the rose-tinted tones of tourist information brochures, and frustrated by their omissions, The Caravan Gallery has set out to redress the balance by sidestepping the brown signs and interpretation boards to see what lies beyond. The Caravan Gallery itself is a diminutive mustard model (circa 1969), with white walls and beech floor on the inside providing the perfect setting for an evolving exhibition of wry, often tragicomic, photographic observations made in response to the areas visited.
some images of theirs that made us giggle
Mark Dion’s work incorporates aspects of archaeology, ecology, detection and systems of classification. Originally commissioned for the Folkestone Triennale, Dion’s staffed mobile unit in the shape of a seagull provides information about these unloved birds in the hope of promoting a better understanding and appreciation. ‘The Mobile Gull Appreciation Unit‘ functions as a clearing-house for information about the evolution, ethnology, natural history, environmental status and folklore of these remarkable animals’. Folkestone is lucky to be host to a rather rare type of seagull – the Mediterranean Gull – which is found in larger numbers here than anywhere else in the UK. A Field Guide to the various local gull species, produced in collaboration with local gull enthusiasts was distributed from the Unit. ‘Art Moves’ invited two RSPB representatives to staff the Unit during the event where they will be offering information relating to Gulls who have relocated to urban environments.
Lisa Cheung and Avant Gardening
‘Operation Deep Freeze’ by Avant Gardening and Lisa Cheung is a mobile ice-cream making and vending unit offering users an enticing exploration of food and flavours and sharing new experiences. Participants can mix ingredients and flavours to create unusual, thought provoking and, most of all, fun taste experiences that encourage people to think afresh about the food they eat.