Transit: The Identity of a White Van’ is an artwork by Essex based artist Lata Upadhyaya. An ordinary white Ford Transit van has been transformed; now enveloped in a graphic design that reflects the rich diversity of contemporary Britain and the communities living in Essex.
Originally from Assam, in India, Upadhyaya first came to live in Essex thirteen years ago. ‘Transit’ brings together cultural signifiers from the two places she has called home – the stereotype of British ‘White Van Man’ first coined in the late 1990’s, and South Asian truck art; vehicles decorated with elaborate patterns and calligraphy.
Included within Upadhyaya’s artwork are Matryoshka dolls, most commonly known as Russian dolls (themselves inspired by similar ornaments first made in Japan), representing the range of communities who live in Essex and the valuable contribution that immigration has made to British society.
The artwork will be displayed in the entrance to Firstsite, welcoming visitors to the gallery.
When researching designs for ‘Transit’, Upadhyaya hosted a series of workshops across Essex, inviting members of the public to draw their own identities and represent the things that are most important to them.
The dominant theme that emerged from the individuals and communities that participated was that we have far more in common than not. These personal reflections have been used by Upadhyaya to inspire the vivid design that now embellishes and patterns the Ford Transit.
‘Transit: The Identity of a White Van’ is the first project made possible through Firstsite’s partnership with Essex Cultural Diversity Project. Based in Chelmsford, Essex Cultural Diversity Project create opportunities, stimulate participation and provide a focal point for the development, celebration and co-ordination of cultural diversity through arts and heritage activity in Essex.
The artwork is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, Essex County Council and Thurrock Borough Council.