This is the eighth year that the Art of Motoring Exhibition has taken place, and this year saw a change of venue from the Royal Automobile Club’s Pall Mall Clubhouse to the Conduit Gallery at Sotheby’s in Bond Street which was able to house all the artwork in one room.
The event brought together the works of 25 well-known motoring artists and sculptors that once again included former Swedish Formula One and Le Mans winner Stefan Johansson who made his artwork debut two years ago, having taken up painting following the death of his friend Elio de Angelis, who was tragically killed in a testing accident at Paul Ricard in 1986.
This year’s Art of Motoring Exhibition was organised and curated by Andrew Marriott of Pitlane Productions and Rupert Whyte of Historic Car Art in association with the Royal Automobile Club and Sotheby’s, with all the pieces of art available to buy either at the exhibition or online.
Exhibitors this year included Jonny Ambrose, Robin Bank, Simon Britnell, Dexter Brown, Joff Carter, Neil Collins, Anna-Louise Felstead, Ella Friere, Paul Howse, Brian James, Stefan Johansson, John Ketchell, Tim Layzell, Kevin McNicholas, Heidi Mraz, REVS Art, Richard Neergaard, Roy Putt, Barry Rowe, Andy Shore, Gary Smith, S.Smyth, Martin Tomlinson, Michael Turner, Chris Wainwright and Richard Wheatland.
Jonny Ambrose has been creating elegant, contemporary automobile sculptures since 1994, and has exhibited at the Art of Motoring exhibitions since 2017. Inspired by aerodynamic forms, imagined airflow and intriguing technical details, he combines traditional steam-bent wood craftsmanship with digital design processes, with wood playing an important part within a rich palette of complementary materials, polished metals, carbon fibre and bespoke 3D design printed elements.
Jonny’s sculptures are not only sleek and beautiful but also draw the viewer closer to the point of studying the work, rewarded by the visual depth of the forms, voids and views. He has created works for international collector clients worldwide and works with leading automotive brands, often donating sale proceeds to charity.
I chatted with Simon Britnell at last year’s Art of Motoring exhibition about his paintings, as I was particularly drawn to his painting of the BMW M1 and Porsche 928.
Simon first became a freelance artist in the 1980s, painting predominantly landscapes and illustrations for publishing as well as pet portrait commissions before diversifying as the game industry took off, teaching himself the skills needed to produce digital images and developing the technical knowledge required to produce 3D game environments, working on many high-profile game franchises.
Having evolved his skills, Simon moved into 3D modelling and texture creation for film visual effects in 2008 and gained credits on the films Narnia, Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Harry Potter – The Deathly Hallows Part 1, Clash of the Titans, Prince of Persia – The Sands of Time, Maleficent, Guardians of the Galaxy and Oscar winners for Best Visual Effects – Hugo and Jungle Book.
Today Simon has returned to conventional art and enjoys working “analogue” with paint and canvas, saying:
“You will see I am particularly drawn to the stylish designs of the 1970s. For me, this era celebrates iconic design with evocative classic vehicles and vibrant motorsport.”
John Ketchell is well-known internationally as a motorsport artist and has been commissioned to produce work by many leading companies and private individuals. His Impressionist style means that he can really portray the feeling of speed and movement in his impressive paintings. As he explains:
“I’ll paint anything that moves. I’ve done speedboats, aircraft and horses in a polo-themed series, but cars are my first love.”
He would often take inspiration from the car park outside his art school in Preston but later became discouraged when the development of computers started to take over his role as an illustrator in an ad agency and the industry as a whole, and so he took up painting full time.
He quickly moved from photo-realism to his now recognisable impressionistic, semi-abstract style, saying:
“I was a fan of the French Impressionists and thought it would be a good direction to capture speed.”
US based Heidi Mraz is a multi-disciplinary, automotive artist who has created a wide range of contemporary fine artwork dedicated to significant cars, using art to share automotive stories and preserve history. Heidi’s process is unique in so far as she thoroughly investigates her subject, gathering an extraordinary amount of information.
She then uses thousands of historically relevant layers, assembling art that is far beyond a snapshot image by creating an archival retrospect of a given vehicle, as well as the people and culture surrounding her subject.
Heidi has even submerged a canvas in a Swiss lake to chronicle the infamous sunken Bugatti and painted a canvas using a wind tunnel to honour the first cars Porsche ever designed in a wind tunnel, the Porsche 906 and 917.
To show the extraordinary lengths she goes to, Heidi has even buried a canvas in Bordeaux where a race car had been entombed during World War II to hide it from the Nazis. She also dragged a canvas through the Baja desert during the NORRA Mexican 1000 to engrain the region’s infamous silt into her work.
Chris Wainwright started drawing as a child and has been a self-confessed petrolhead from a young age. His bold, expressive paintings of Formula 1 Grand Prix racing cars convey his passion for motorsport whilst captivating the viewer with colour and the feeling of movement, with his Formula 1 artwork available as both originals and limited edition prints, so there is something for everyone.
Having drawn and painted cars and aeroplanes from an early age, Richard Wheatland’s visit to the Roy Nockolds Memorial exhibition in 1980 gave him the impetus to start to take his art more seriously and held his first exhibition at an enthusiast gathering at Brooklands in 1983. Since then, Richard has exhibited at most of the major historic motoring events in the UK as well as exhibiting in the US.
His Aviation art has taken him over to America as an overseas member of the American Society of Aviation Artists where he has won a number of awards. Richard is a founder member of the Guild of Motoring Artists here in the UK and member of The Guild of Aviation Artists.
Simon Burrell is Editor of Our Man Behind The Wheel, a professional photographer and former saloon car racing driver.
Photographs by Simon Burrell