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Review: Motor Culture Talks at The Filling Station

Tuesday 17 July 2012
Words Spindle

It only seems right that after writing a preview of the Vauxhall Ampera talks at the Filling Station that I actually go and experience some of it. Which I did, last Monday evening for the first event to be held there  – Motor Culture.

The Filling Station is smaller than I thought but the shapes and forms of the structure really work. As we all know too well the weather has been shocking but as the talks were about to start I swear I saw some sun through the clouds! We were sat outside but under cover which gave the event a different feel; no stuffy rooms or fluorescent lighting. The talks were organised by 5×15, and the premise is that 5 people talk for 15 minutes. It’s a good concept; it cuts down on waffling.

The first to talk was Stephen Bayley who tried to persuade the audience that there is beauty and even sensuality in car design. Of course he didn’t show Ladas or Trabants as examples, rather the Aston Martin DB40 and 59 Cadillac. A car-phobic such as I was almost convinced.

As we sat and listened, the smell of the pizza wood oven made my tummy rumble. I ignored it and carried on listening intently. The fifteen minutes restriction is a great idea and keeps proceedings fresh and dynamic.

Speaker number two was Dr Mike Jump from the University of Liverpool who presented the exciting prospect of personal aerial transport with the myCopter. Then for some light relief performance poet Luke Wright spoke to us about his experiences with travel and being on the road. His 2 hilarious poems were about the “branded oasis” which is the service station and camping dad getting away for the weekend.

Connecting to the event itself was Ian Allen who works for Vauxhall and is involved in the Ampera electric car. He talked about how we need to think more creatively to be able to cope with the transport demands of the future. Finally, fellow car refuser Geoff Dyer spoke about filling stations and referred to how they have been presented in (mainly American) art and photography. Who would have thought such mundane places could produce such evocative and interesting images?

My distance from cars and motoring meant I could be objective and un-biased but thanks to the conviction and articulacy of the speakers I almost felt a twinge of longing for a gas guzzler! The other talks on the Vauxhall Ampera season have a suitably scientific/ technological theme to them.

Words: Rose Davison