Whipps admits that he ‘often makes work about things he doesn’t understand and doesn’t know how to do’ - previously training with the University of Birmingham to create geological thin sections or working with a seventeenth century sign language devised by Sir Christopher Wren. The Kipper and The Corpse, which takes its name from an episode of British sitcom Fawlty Towers, sees Whipps attempting the complete restoration of a 1979 Mini, calling on the assistance and mechanical expertise of former British Leyland workers.
The car, here for the first time in its fully refurbished state, is the focal point of the exposition alongside photography, texts and archival material from 1979, including political cartoons referencing British Leyland. The year holds particular significance for Whipps; it was the year of his birth, Margaret Thatcher was elected as Prime Minister and it saw the sacking of British Trade Unionist Derrick Robinson, otherwise known as ‘Red Robbo’, at the Longbridge motor works. Forty years on, The Kipper and The Corpse focuses entirely on this moment in history, exemplifying Whipps’ interest in the ramifications of the past on the present through cycles of political and socio-economic change.
“I like the idea that it (the Mini) would sit in an art gallery, in a traditional setting…it’s not trying to make it sculptural in an artful way through the subversion of materials, it’s through this straight presentation of ‘here’s this object, here are these narratives that relate to it’.” Stuart Whipps
The Kipper and The Corpse was commissioned by WERK as part of the Longbridge Public Art Project. This Ikon presentation is dedicated to the memory of Keith Woodfield who worked at the Longbridge motor works for over 30 years and was a guiding light for the artist.