Mini fans can see an acclaimed photographer and artist restore one of the 1970s’ most iconic cars at St. Modwen’s Longbridge – the home of the former MG Rover plant where the famous model was made until 2000.
The 468 acre Longbridge site is now undergoing a £1 billion transformation by the UK’s leading regeneration specialist and is fast becoming an established business, leisure and retail community that is on track to create around 10,000 jobs.
Over the next few months Stuart Whipps, with the help of local residents and former MG Rover workers, will be restoring a 1979, 1275 Mini GT in a studio specially set up on Longbridge Town Centre Car park, opposite Bournville College and adjacent to Austin Park.
The artist is inviting mini enthusiasts and members of the public to watch him work and participate within a series of open days on Saturday 17th October, Saturday 21st November and Saturday 12th December.
Stuart Whipps is one of seven long term artists-in-residence commissioned as part of Longbridge Public Art Project by public art organisation WERK to create work in the area to support the transition of Longbridge from one of the largest car factories in Europe into a new town.
Stuart said: “I have been producing work connected to Longbridge since 2004, I wanted to mark the importance of the site by restoring the 1979 1275 Mini GT, a car which has become synonymous with British manufacturing but also represents a time when both MG Rover and the UK were hit by a wave of industrial action.
“Through community engagement and the incredible personal stories that people are sharing, this object will become an original piece of art which encapsulates the evolution of Longbridge. It provides the perfect metaphor, representing how Longbridge is moving forward, without forgetting about its past.”
Longbridge Public Art Project (LPAP) is a benchmark regional and national opportunity that highlights the positive impact of artists working as part of regeneration schemes. The artists through engagement and research are able to produce work that draws upon the history of the area, while contributing to its identity for the future.
Claire Farrell, LPAP Curator and Director of WERK, added: “We are grateful for St. Modwen’s ongoing support in creating opportunities for artists to embed themselves in Longbridge over a long period of time. Within the context of a regeneration scheme such as this, a research in practice process is critical in producing contemporary art with a sense of place”.
As the Mini restoration takes place, Stuart will exhibit different parts of the vehicle in multiple UK galleries over the next 12 months, as part of the internationally renowned exhibition, British Art Show 8, which is widely recognised as the most ambitious and influential exhibition of contemporary British art.
Project partners British Art Show 8 and Haywood Touring have supported the Mini restoration project, with funding support from The William A. Cadbury Charitable Trust.
British Art Show 8 opens at Leeds Art Gallery on Friday 9th October and will tour to Edinburgh, Norwich and Southampton during 2016.
Developed by St. Modwen, the UK’s leading regeneration specialist, Longbridge is a place where people can live, work, visit and invest. In November it will become home to the Midlands’ largest Marks & Spencer. For more details visit: www.longbridgebirmingham.co.uk