November 1999


Hail your art

London cabbies are not renowned for their appreciation of the wilder shores of contemporary art, but Jason Brown is an exception. In collaboration with art dealer Paul Stolper, he has converted his cab into a mobile art gallery, literally a vehicle for art, dedicated to showing works in all media, as well as to transporting passengers. "Everything, inside and out, is specifically made for the Cab Gallery," says Mr Brown, who is building up a serious collection of art that includes works by Prunella Clough, Don Judd, Gilbert & George and Adam Chodzko. "The people I pick up are not usually gallery-goers. At first they think that it's all just some strange kind of advertising, and they often jump in too quickly to notice what's on the outside. But once they realise what it is, I've had some fantastic conversations. An American couple I took to Heathrow wanted to be photographed with the cab."

The Cab Gallery can be easily identified from the street, as each passenger door is vividly emblazoned with the word "TAXY", painted in block capitals, a characteristically misspelled text-piece by Bob and Roberta Smith. Once inside, passengers can relax to the casette of Abigail Cohen singing the words of Robert De Niro's famous "All the animals come out at night" speech from the movie "Taxi driver" and there is more of Travis's "Taxi driver" monologue embroidered on a cushion for the back seat. Other works of art on display include multiple stickers by Pete Liversidge and, on the back shelf, a book of drawings made by Susie Hamilton during a cab journey between Soho and Swiss Cottage.

The work is not for sale, simply for enjoyment, but as a working taxi, all the Cab Gallery's exhibits have to be submitted for approval by the Hackney Carriage Office which has been largely good humoured, if somewhat bemused, by its new role of selection committee. "We want to keep it simple, we're not forcing art on people, it's just there," says Mr Brown who admits that he would ultimately like some larger gallery to house his mobile version.

Meanwhile, the Cab Gallery is criss-crossing London, there to be hailed by anyone who wants to experience art on the move. It will also be stopping at certain points, most notably outside Peter Liversidge's exhibition at A22 Gallery.