A family car from 1985 with a large flashing neon arrow attached to its roof driving westward across the A-roads of England. This is ‘I’m Westward Ho!’ – an artwork and journey by artist Stuart Robinson
The journey itself will take place on Sunday 25th August. It will leave the village of Blisworth at 5.30am following a route taken by the family to Westward Ho! passing regular stops and points of interest on the way arriving in the evening to a celebratory Fish and Chips and Ice Cream.
The car in question is a silver Volvo 340, the childhood vehicle of the artists family with the artwork inspired by, and a form of homage to, the journeys undertaken in it and his late Fathers role as driving force behind the yearly holidays to the South West.
“As well as being one of our Holiday destinations the name ‘I’m Westward Ho!’ is inspired by Charles Kingsley’s book ‘Westward Ho!’ ,from where the town got its name, about seeking a better life in the West, as well as the literal meaning of ‘Heading West’ The title therefore also refers to the journey itself, starting in my childhood village of Blisworth in Northamptonshire and heading Westward towards the seaside town.”
“I’m fascinated by the way neon signs would be used to point you to an arcade, a bar, a casino or a store all with the promise of making your life better, even if temporarily. The bigger and flashier the sign the more promise lay within. In this case the neon arrow creates a visual symbol for the journey, always pointing optimistically forward, gesturing towards the ideal of a week in the sun. These holidays formed a temporary utopia for a week each year where normal rules didn’t apply, there was sea, sun and arcade games peppered with a diet of chips and ice-cream. They formed a respite from normal life, something to look forward to, something to aim for. The importance of these holidays to my parents and the effort that would be put in to realise them, through saving and planning, only became apparent to me as I got older and discussed and explored their legacy with my family following the death from MS related complications of my Father, Martin. I wanted to create a work that helped me relive the experience of this journey while creating a kind of commemorative homage to my Father”
“My work has been exploring ideas of signage and landscape over a number of years and it felt a natural fit to take the signs physically out of the gallery space and into the landscape. What better way to do this than on the roof of my childhood Volvo that held so many memories of hope, excitement and exploration.”
Stuart is currently living and working in Penryn, Cornwall having grown up in Northamptonshire and studied Fine Art at the University of East London. He has recently shown at the RWA in Bristol, SET in London and was one of the winners of the South West Showcase in 2017
The artwork itself will be debuted with a Launch Event at Back Lane West art space in Redruth, Cornwall near the artists current home on Friday 23rd August from 6-9pm with
The artwork will also be on display as part of Plymouth Art Weekender on Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th September
Stuart has had support for the project from a successful Crowdfunder campaign as well as from Cultivator, an EU and Arts Council funded organisation in Cornwall supporting small businesses, artists and makers.
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