A vivid new world brings a bravura display of colour to London

By Sujata Burman

“An aspirational, magical and a possible future for the city”

“I was an early electric car adopter,” says colour-obsessed spatial artist Morag Myerscough, speaking of the battery powered car she once owned. “When I got mine it only went for 25 miles – it actually made you stay in London.”

Aside from the environmental benefits of electric cars, Myerscough believes that they will one day have a sensory effect on cities. “I believe that electric cars will really change the environment of cities due to a reduction in sounds and because of the change in smells,” she explains. Such was the motivation that kicked off her LDF project with the festival’s automotive partner MINI – an immersive installation that will be realised at Shoreditch Electric Light Station, to celebrate the British marque’s latest electric vehicles.

“I come from Holloway and it was grim. My dad said that we could never grow vegetables as we would die from the soil they are grown in,” says Myerscough. Now based in Surrey, she has solar panels, heat pumps and renewal energy powering her home – and can grow her own vegetables due to the fresher air.

All this being said, she’s still passionate about the evolution of London. Speaking over a video call, I see Myerscough has an enticing green backdrop of plants that she’s been cultivating, and she's been thinking about what a ‘greener’ city could look like for a while now. Having moved from London to a village in the past two years, she’s interested in investigating “the idea of the country coming into the city”. Rather than just an industrial environment, Myerscough is inspired by the notion of an eclectic metropolis made by the people.

The world she is creating for MINI is “aspirational, magical and a possible future for the city”, she says. “There are shared streets, shared cars, clutter removed and offering a positive future within a renewable context. I want people to feel uplifted by these possibilities. The plants are as big as the houses.” Myerscough’s ethos is shared by MINI, whose ‘Big Love’ mission is focused on initiatives which build a brighter future for people, their communities and the planet.

As MINI journeys towards being an electric only brand by 2030, visitors are invited to explore the multi-sensory elements of the Myerscough & MINI universe. “You can’t get away from the noise, it’s 24/7,” says Myerscough of her time living in Hoxton in 2020. But when lockdown hit, “birds started singing and I thought, ‘Wow – this is what it would be like if we don’t have big lorries coming into the city.’ There would be a completely different soundscape,” she says. Inside the installation, avian sounds will provide the melody, while natural, seasonal smells will provide pleasant olfactory stimulation.

Myerscough’s creative signature is her vivid use of colour, and the evoking of joy through vibrancy. This project is no different, and she was startled at the aesthetic synchronicity. “It’s as if,” she explains, “MINI took colours from my palette and put it in their range.” The trademark greens and browns of the MINI Countryman are layered with yellows, purples and pinks. There are moments of shadow, plus silhouettes of windmills that nod to a MINI’s hubcaps. The installation is an opportunity to bring people together to weave through the ‘streets’ and feel inspired for a future that intertwines the best of both town and country.