THE 65th birthday of one of the world’s favourite vehicles, the VW Campervan, is being celebrated in a new exhibition.
Hundreds of thousands of Kombis are still on roads in every continent, used as public buses in Mexico and Brazil and here enjoying renewed popularity as mobile honeymoon suites as well as remaining the premium choice of accommodation for festival-goers.
Liverpool art school graduate Matt Wilde from Warrington uses oil paintings of campervans in his latest show, created to illustrate the recession.
The collection, “Still Life in the….” has gone on show this week (Friday August 8) at Liverpool independent gallery, View Two, at 23 Mathew Street.
Two of the paintings feature a raring-to go VW Camper amid a junkpile of discarded buses.
Volkswagen introduced the VW Kombi, as it was called, at the Geneva Motor Show in 1949, with production starting the following year.
Over six decades it was one of the most versatile vehicles on the planet, loved by globetrotters, hippies, pop groups and anybody with people and stuff to move around. More than 3.5m were built between 1950 and last December when the final batch rolled off a production line in Brazil.
Said Matt: “Production of campervans in Europe ended many years ago, but production continued after that in Brazil until last Christmas.
They are a great example of something that still has plenty of life, a perfect illustration of life after the recession. You spot one left to rot in an old barn or garage and somebody will want to love and restore it. Even a vehicle in its 50s or 60s can enjoy new beginnings. It’s a statement about the future.”
The collection, says View Two owner Prof Ken Martin, would attract much higher prices in London where Matt has a good following. But he decided he wanted to show in Liverpool.
Prof Martin said: “As Matt said to me he also wants the prices of the works to be available to recession buyers. The theme may be the recession but all of the paints are clever, and will bring a smile to your face every time you look at them.
“Paintings such as ‘Something to Lean On In Your Retirement’ showing a group of elderly people mowing the lawn, or the semi-autobiographical ‘Bish, Bash, Bosh’ showing a frustrated businessman smashing a computer in a field.
Prof Martin said: “I was tickled pink when Matt walked into the gallery saying he wanted to put some of his work on show.
“He had two great sell-out shows here 10 years ago, then he was taken up by a Manchester gallery. He came to see me and I asked if he had read the small print; it prohibited him from selling his work in Liverpool. It seemed the gallery in Manchester wanted to control his work. We don’t do things like that at View Two, it seems far too punitive.”
Matt’s work has been inspired by everyday urban surroundings, daily commutes, consumerism and waste issues.
“I had been accused of thinking too much about life and art by family and friends who said they could see the cogs turning in my head. They had become frustrated with my persistence in pursuing a career as an artist,” says Matt who worked as a plumber but he swapped his spanners for paints and easel. He describes his work as ‘full of life and energy’.
*Matt Wilde’s work can be seen at View Two, 23 Mathew Street, Liverpool: Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays noon till 5pm. Admission to the gallery is free.