Leeds artistic creativity and the cool Jamaican beer Red Stripe came together for their event ‘Push it’ in the trendiest bar this side of the Pennines: Nation of Shopkeepers. Always keen to showcase young artists, it seemed Nation was the perfect location for the Red Stripe event.

The travelling art exhibition was a collaboration between Red Stripe and four internationally renowned artists. Heading down to Nation at 4pm, I was lucky enough to have the privilege of being able to go and view the art works prior to the evening starting. Arriving at the venue, there were the four vans which had each been uniquely designed by one of the four artists. The art work, the designs, and the brand, in fact everything about the project fitted together beautifully.

Each of the vans expressed a distinct style, clearly encompassing each of the artists’ individuality but together representing a bold urban influence. I was instantly drawn to Sandrine’s design, a Parisian artist who had turned the van into a 1970’s punk, juxtaposing the brands’ introduction into the UK in the 1970’s. The pair of legs cleverly made of traffic cones sticking out from the back of the van was the best feature for me.

The designs of Stallard and Sweza had become more about an audience interaction. Stallard’s van allowed the viewer to ‘plug in’ their music device to have their favourite music played. Sweza’s art work took on the form of CCTV cameras, which by the use of large screens on the van allowed the audience to see themselves as if through a CCTV camera. This was an interesting idea as we are so often caught on camera but are unaware of what that might look like. Slightly more design focused was D. Billy’s leading van ‘1 of 4’, which had an intricate doodle type design.

 The tour began in London, where the artists met to assemble their designs. They were then taken on the road to Bristol and Leeds. I was surprised to learn that this was not simply a promotional opportunity for Red Stripe, it was in fact part of a larger support programme from the company for up and coming artists nationwide.

Returning at 8pm to see the vans in action, I was not disappointed with the effort which had been put into making this evening a success with the public. The event was always destined to work with Nations cool arty character and Leeds vibrancy with the arts from its reputable art colleges. Nevertheless a seemingly ordinary occasion of socializing in a bar was transformed into a lively and interactive art exhibition reflective of the brand itself.

Review by Rachel Worthington

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