Homes and Gardens / camper van

Interview: Sadie Spikes

By jess connett, Wednesday Nov 1, 2017

Sadie Spikes is a Bristol-based artist who has recently completed restoring three vintage show vans, which she’ll be leasing them out to artists, makers and practitioners around the city, offering them spaces to work and make their own. Applications to be part of the project close at the end of December 2017.

You’ve just completed renovating these vans. Where did they come from?

The vans just make me smile. They’re like the British version of the sleek American airstream: these eccentric old show vans that were nicknamed ‘pan loaves’ because they look like risen loaves of bread. They are rather lovely.

I started trawling EBay for one about five years ago, looking for another venture to divert my time. I’ve always loved gypsy wagons: that one in Bristol Museum was my favourite exhibit. I’m sure there are a lot of people who looked into it and were transported.

The interior of one of the show vans, restored by Sadie

I’ve always loved the idea of moving, of having a home on wheels contained in a small space; there’s a real romantic element. I had some money burning in my pocket and an idea that would not die, and I bought a derelict van in mid-wales. It probably wasn’t a good idea!

But, five years later, I’ve got three. They are quite rare objects, so I bought them when they came up, and then spent my weekends scrubbing and scraping. It was a physical challenge and a learning curve to create toilets and bathrooms. I put a roll top bath in the horse box! I like creating the slightly ridiculous; it’s a challenge of creative problem solving and inventing things and proving people wrong.

Sadie inside one of her vans

What sort of people are you hoping will take on the vans?

I’m going to lease them to people with creative ideas, that want the chance to be their own boss. I love independent people who are mavericks and take a gamble: that’s something I’m passionate about and something I want to support.

Being creative can be lonely, so being around others and sharing is what it’s all about. I’d really like to help other people to become independent small business owners. It’s easier to work hard if you know you’re creating something good off your own back.

The interior of one of the vans

What sort of thing are you hoping people might use the vans for?

At the moment we’re still connecting with groups around Bristol to get the idea out there, so we’re waiting to see what response we get back. But there are so many different ideas and options you could do with them: my head spins! It could be an Air B&B, a massage studio, a pop-up restaurant: all kinds of things. It’s going to be exciting to see what people come up with.

I’d love for them to be in and around Bristol: they are such gorgeous objects, and they lend themselves to Bristol’s maverick ethos.

To find out more or to apply to lease one of the vans, contact before December 31 2017.

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