‘I tried to keep the dignity of the car, but also make it decorative,’ says Sir Peter Blake of his latest venture, a boldly painted Bentley 'art car' that has been created for the Care2Save Charitable Trust. When first asked to envisage how he might decorate the vehicle, the venerable pioneer of British pop art admits he almost declined. ‘I thought, why mess up a perfect object? I wanted to keep its purity and work in a certain radius.... Taste, I suppose.’
Blake's vision is based on the new 200mph+ Continental GT V8 S Convertible. For four months, the artist worked with Bentley's engineers and skilled team of Mulliner artisans at the marque’s Crewe factory. ‘Initially I wasn’t quite sure how the finish would be resolved. We had a band of images wrapped around the car, but the process was far more complicated than I had imagined. We simplified and simplified and simplified it.’
The car made its debut at London auction house Bonhams, where Blake's distinctive bright collage dominates the exterior. A bespoke St Luke’s blue – created in homage to the carmaker’s Cheshire hospice – dominates the rear haunches, doors and boot lid, whilst the St James' red heart motif is hand-painted on the yellow bonnet. Blake completes his Bentley with contrasting fuchsia pink radiator grille surround, with the lower body finished in British racing green.
The interior is equally playful, with each leather seat trimmed in different colour hides, a combination of Cumbrian green, imperial blue, Newmarket tan and hotspur. The same shades are echoed on the steering wheel replete with a pink leather gear lever contrasting boldly against the sobriety of the black dashboard.
A collection of unique storage cases feature a piano black veneer outer treatment with added yellow and red internal linings to reflect the bonnet colour theme. The ‘No. 1 of 1’ labelled treadplate signifies that this is a one-off Sir Peter Blake design.
Finally, the Bentley by Blake comes with its very own personalised playlist, all of which is driving themed – 'Pink Cadillac', 'Route 66', 'Drive-in Saturday', 'Mustang Sally', 'Road to Nowhere' – and, not surprisingly, includes a number of tracks by The Beatles, for whom Blake famously designed the artwork for Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
The artist – who incidentally doesn’t hold a driving licence – remarks that this project would have completed his ‘trio of land, sea and air vehicles’ had he successfully completed the commission to paint the final British Airways tailplane, a scheme sadly scrapped by BA before he and David Hockney got their chance.
Blake admits he thoroughly enjoyed this project. ‘I was shown how to hand stitch in the Crewe factory, which was exciting. We really had a very good time there. I have enormous admiration for the people at Bentley who brought my design into being, to produce this one-off lovely car, and I’m very excited to be seeing it.’
The car will be auctioned off at the Goodwood Festival of Speed on 24 June to benefit the charity, which provides palliative and hospice care around the world. As a singular artwork, the Bentley by Sir Peter Blake is hard to beat.