Luton Culture

Working with young people to decorate a Pakistani truck
Truck Art was a youth engagement project run by Luton Culture that saw local people from across Luton’s diverse communities transform a Vauxhall Bedford truck into the style of decorated trucks in Pakistan.

The term truck art describes a type of folk art practiced on vehicles in Pakistan and in South Asia, where specialist truck artists create vibrant and highly personal works of truck art. The project celebrated the link between Luton and Pakistan: Bedford trucks manufactured in Luton in the 1950s are still used in Pakistan

Vauxhall Motors helped Luton Culture source a vintage Bedford TJ in Malta and shipped it back to Luton, ready to be decorated. The museum’s youth team Re-Created worked with traditional gypsy artist Rory Coxhill and Hadier Ali, a truck painter based in Karachi, Pakistan.

Six members of the team also visited Lahore and Karachi to see Pakistan’s truck art first hand and gain inspiration for the creation of their own truck. The trip included visits to truck yards, workshops at the National College of Art, tours of heritage sites and collecting of objects to bring back to complement the museum’s existing folk art collection.

Ali and Coxhill also took part in international exchanges, with the aim to inspire and challenge contemporary craft culture by facilitating opportunities for artistic professional development.

The project resulted in a co-curated exhibition at Luton Culture and the decorated truck being accessioned into the museum’s collection. In addition to developing artistic skills, the young people participated in a programme of training, workshops and visit to museums, to gain an understanding of museums, collections and exhibition curation.  

“I think the Truck Art project has gone beyond what it initially set out to do, and I can say that it has helped develop myself at a personal level,” says Chris McCarthy, a member of the Re-Created youth forum.

“I have learnt a lot about a different culture, which has helped me understand new things about my own culture, and I share my experience about the project with people I meet where ever I go, and so I think in some ways the project continues to live on.”

Truck Art was a Stories of the World project, a two-year youth engagement programme that formed part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad.

The project featured in a Museum Practice on working with youth panels