Car Art in practice.

Pride Of Longbridge; Established in 2006, by Gemma Cartwright in order to remember and celebrate the great things that Longbridge achieved during its long history as a car manufacturing site. Gemma herself has born and raised this group, the following is enormous and the impact high. Every year the group get together to show off their Longbridge made vehicles and throughout the year they come together at regular meets and to help keep these vehicles on the road. Overall the goal is to keep the memory alive and provide a place where people can reflect on the past whilst they progress into the future, to keep the original Longbridge community alive with joint goals – what better event could there be to produce a car art piece with a Longbridge built MG?

A quick recap:

I had a simple goal. Use my art to create a community engaging piece to explore the changes in the Longbridge area. I had a not so simple idea, that the way to create such a masterpiece, (or something along those lines), was to use an actual memory of what the area used to be and transform it into a work of art which depicted the changes to the area and the effect those changes have on the people …..the key part was to ensure that those very people, were invited to aid the transformation.


I decided to use a 2005 MG ZS, saved from the scrap heap owing to a desperate need to salvage her, I have a total gut instinct that she is worth more and I can’t bear to sell her after a head gasket fault takes her off road. I stumble across images of yarn bombing, and put two and two together to make car art! Why the heck not, If I want to take a piece of the past and use it to redress the image of Longbridge, then what better way to do that than to use an actual car made here, and transform her image. Use media which allows everyone to be involved, on a medium every one can relate to and just have some fun making a new dress for an old girl. Simple? Yeah, sure.

In my haste, I admit that I jumped right in at the deep end, wise enough to know creating an entire car as a work of art was going to take more than my skills could manage, at least in the beginning, I decided on a community project whereby I allowed others to aid in the transformation. It was very important to me that I allowed others to become a part of the change and wherever possible, not to enforce any goals upon the artist. If this project was to work, a multitude of different method, media and style had to come together to create the work.

Feeling deflated after being told I could use Longbridge Light Festival as the event at which to produce my work, I was not letting this stop me, I found some local graffiti artists willing to join in so we went straight to work and the first wave began.

Hindsight is a tremendous force and it has taught me a lot, however, getting the first wave done had pros and only one massive negative,

Firstly the Con,

The graffiti did not hold out as it should have done and hence left me in a mighty pickle trying to remove/cover it, I wasted about 4 weeks trying to sort it!

The pros,

It got my project noticed & inspired interest.

Allowed me to see another style of artist work and how they actually produce graffiti art.

It gave me an excellent view of what collaboration and project management was really about.

And inspired some artists to try something a little different!

Now, even though it caused some setbacks to time, it really was not so big a deal.

I approached a lot of people, individuals, artists, community groups, students at the college, I even went and pitched my project to the textiles group inviting them to be involved with the interior. I tried to steer clear of companies as I wanted this to be for people who had personal links to Mg Rover/Austin or Longbridge itself. However I did approach smaller local businesses.

Even though I was rebounded, put off, sent away, usually it was for no other reason than the access available. I could have had a lot more impact had I had funding for this project, even to be able to use an indoor space would have saved me weeks. Most people who did want to help, were not able to travel too and work on the vehicle at my home address and outdoors!

Eventually, it happened though, Gemma Cartwright gave the final nod of acceptance and Northfield Arts Forum helped me fund the relocation of the car to and from Pride of Longbridge and also provided a tent on the day to allow work to continue should the weather change. Having their banners flying high also made a difference in the impact I had, people stopped and took notice and the day went far better than anything I could ever have imagined.

Overall it has been a huge learning curve, I have proved to myself that I am capable of seeing a rather big idea, through to its end. I have made many new friends and opened many doors to other projects. In my research into how on earth to fulfill my own goal, I learnt a lot about myself, gained a new skill, having never really thought much of my own illustration skills, finding that Mandala art is my forte, really made me so proud! To be able to work with pen and paper to produce beautiful imagery which transcribes so easily to almost any project, I am overwhelmed that it has taken me so long to reach this stage.

Because I was so invested in honing my new skill I took it and applied it to whatever I could, this has proven to be of a value beyond any on paper, I have accidentally ended up in a collaborative FMP with Anna Timmington, my part in the make over being to design the imagery for the feature wall in the room. Because I went community/collaborative, had helped Samantha Williams with the Play Factory,  I found I gained her respect  and when she formed Collective A – a project funded by LPAP, I was one of 5 to be invited to co-construct and implement the project. Because I worked with Sam, LPAP artists have also seen my value and I have new connections even though LPAP is now disbanded. My crazy ideas got me noticed also by NAF who have since learnt that my skillsets are as varied as the colours in the sky and they have employed me across several areas and they fully supported the implementation of car art.

The first year I admit I winged my way through, totally unsure what I was or how I could possibly get by with no clue where I belonged in the art world or how it would embrace me. This year I resolved to let go of all fear and preconception, to stop trying to be something and just be myself. Since I let go and let things take their natural course I have moved from Mixed media contemporary artist ( although slightly more creative than artist! ) Into Fine Art/ Illustrator practising Applied Arts, now I look back I have always been Applied arts, furniture upcycling/garden design/interior design/ soft furnishing/textiles, every time I have made something I am proud of, it has been on or for something. I find I’m driven to make everything beautiful or individual. I do not know why. I am keen to understand more about applied art and myself and I look forward to the future.




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