What started out as an exciting collaboration between Rolls-Royce, Breast Cancer Care UK and some of the biggest names in contemporary art has blossomed into an extraordinary collection of one-off art pieces. Created to raise funds at the Breast Cancer Care UK auction, 12 artists transformed a model of Ghost into their own miniature masterpiece.
Inspiring, thought-provoking – and sometimes off the wall – the Breast Cancer Care UK auction pieces showcase the inner workings of some of the most revered contemporary artists. With a 1:18 scale replica of the iconic Rolls-Royce Ghost as their blank canvas, Sam Taylor-Johnson, Gavin Turk and Mark Wallinger are among the artists who created a collection of truly unique expressions.
As a project with no real restrictions, some artists consciously projected their own distinct style on to the model motor car. British-Nigerian Turner Prize nominee Yinka Shonibare covered his in a mosaic of Dutch wax batik fabrics: “The mosaic is an extension of the customary way I work with African textiles. It’s formed the identity of my practice for a number of years.”
London-based Natasha Law, best known for works that straddle both art and fashion, created a continuation of a piece she’s working on outside of this project. Law punctuated her pure white Ghost with a few mysterious shapes that are in fact clothes removed by an absent, ghost-like figure.
Canadian painter Andrew Salgado incorporated his model into his daily practice: “I used mine as the locus of possibility where I mixed, scraped, wiped, abandoned and scooped paint. Over time, it became a continuation of me and my work.” The result? A glorious muck of paint that unintentionally gives Ghost a textured armour of colour.
An approach common to three of the artists was to use the miniature Ghosts to celebrate Rolls-Royce as a brand. JJ Adams’ Outta Time 2015 reinterprets the time-travelling motor car in Back to the Future II: “to celebrate Rolls-Royce’s past, present and futuristic design”. In the film, Marty and Doc travel to the year 2015 where motor cars can hover and fly. Adams reinterprets the fictitious vehicle to add a cult-film element to his Ghost.
Maggi Hambling takes the iconic Spirit of Ecstasy and revives her as a symbol of hope: “The prestigious Rolls-Royce leading lady may well be interpreted as a powerful angel of endurance and perfection. But in my sculpture, she’s a conquering force, emerging triumphantly out of the depths.”
Also paying tribute to unrivalled Rolls-Royce automotive designs, Angela Palmer worked with detailed cross-sections of Ghost supplied by the Design team. Palmer created a three-dimensional ‘drawing’ of the motor car by engraving multiple sheets of glass and encasing them in a transparent chamber.
Mark Wallinger draws parallels between the literal definition of ‘ghost’ and what it means to Rolls-Royce. By placing his model – the latest Ghost – in a frosted glass vitrine, Wallinger creates a misty outline of a motor car that harks back to the original ground-breaking Ghost.
One artist chose to feature their Ghost as part of a scene. British sculptor Gavin Turk inserted his miniature Rolls-Royce into a setting where nature has reclaimed control over civilisation. The model finds itself cloaked in moss and playing host to a colony of toadstools.
Richard Wentworth, whose work is all to do with language, muses on the mystery behind the word ‘vehicle’. Unlike ‘car’ – derived from ‘chariot’ – the linguistic roots of vehicle are more ambivalent. Entitled Phantasmagoria, Wentworth’s piece sees the model Ghost engulfed in a wire cage and bound to a stack of open dictionaries.
Stuart Semple’s Little Ghost offers a contemporary take on the classic ghost-in-a-sheet cartoon character. Using modelling resin, Semple creates the effect of the model being dipped in white paint and frozen in time. The drawn-on animated eyes add an element of fun, while the dripping paint represents something deeper: the subtle veil between the imagined and real.
The one remaining artist, Charming Baker, creates a poignant piece that refers to the statistics of breast cancer: “I read that one in eight women in the UK are diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. So I set the model Ghost in the middle of a clear block of resin. I then drilled into the block 16 times. Fourteen of the holes pass through the clear set resin, while only two pass through the resin and the model car.”
After a hugely successful private auction at the Royal Automobile Club in London, all 12 art cars were sold to raise funds for Breast Cancer Care UK.
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In the artist’s studio
Contemporary art, French cuisine and a fleet of Rolls-Royce motor cars. Discover an experiential event like no other.