This week saw the official launch of the Dulwich Picture Gallery Artmobile, an outreach vehicle that will allow the Gallery’s education work to reach an increased number and diversity of community settings. The project launched on Tuesday morning and saw local primary school children unwrap the vehicle from a cover of brown paper and Sir Stirling Moss take the vehicle on its inaugural journey. Stevie Edge-McKee, Senior Education Manager tells us more about the event and project.
It feels like this idea has been in planning stages for a very long time so I am absolutely delighted to now have the Artmobile on the road! The idea originally came from our desire to do more even community engagement events. Last year we engaged with 4700 individuals in locations like hospitals, schools, youth centres, and care homes but we are being met with increasing demand for our creative activities.
This is never truer that on our Good Times: Art for Older People programme, which won an award for innovation from the Royal Society for Public Health in 2010. This programme alone now has over 100 partners; but the Artmobile will travel further and wider than before and will provide increased visibility to this element of the Gallery’s work.
The launch of the vehicle couldn’t have gone better; there was no rain and all parties turned out as planned.
For the education team, the day started at 7am, as a group of us arrived to meet the challenge of wrapping the vehicle up like a huge gift. We had done a test before the event, but on the morning of the launch the vehicle was still covered in moisture from a downpour from the previous day. We tried to dry it off as much as possible but with the feeling that attendees would soon be arriving, there was a moment when I thought it wasn’t going to be possible or that it would end up looking like a 5 year old had wrapped it in haste with the design showing through! But with many hands struggling to hold the paper on in the wind, it then it then came together very nicely and quickly and with about 15 minutes to spare I stood back to admire a beautifully wrapped parcel, with ribbons and a bow too!
I think it made an impact stationed in front of Soane’s historic building, but obviously could not contend with the star of the show, motorsport veteran, Stirling Moss for many of the attendees that morning.
I have driven the Artmobile myself and can vouch for the fact that this Chinese made vehicle has ‘city nippiness’ as its strength rather than luxurious comfort but Stirling certainly showed me not to underestimate the power of this small vehicle as he accelerated away from the crowd at quite a speed.
I cannot say that it was easy seeing the project that you have worked on for nearly 3 years being driven into the distance by someone who specializes in speed. Stirling even seemed to enjoy driving it and completed a second lap of the crowd with a twinkle in his eye just as everyone thought he would pull up for the press photographs.
But I am happy to say that the Artmobile made it back in one piece and went on to visit Anerley’s Ethnic Communities Group in the afternoon and then Streatham’s Well Centre’s Youth Group in the evening. Not bad for its first day on the road!
I am incredibly proud of this project; the Artmobile will become an essential part the Gallery and enable us to work further towards our mission to make Dulwich Picture Gallery and visual arts as accessible to as many people as possible.
For more information about Dulwich Picture Gallery’s educational and outreach programmes please visit: www.dulwichpicturegallery.org.uk.
The Artmobile Project has been generously supported by Béatrice & James Lupton, CBE.