Art & Lifestyle | 14 November 2014

Adrenalin, an exhibition by Angela Palmer inspired by Formula One

Renault Sport F1 gave sculptor & installation artist Angela Palmer, access to its V8 engine to realise unique artworks. Her collection, inspired by Formula One, is exhibited at the Fine Art Society in London, in an event called Adrenalin, from November 19 to December 23, 2014.
by Groupe Renault

Photo (above) credit: Driven Gear, bronze, image by Todd-White Art Photography

In collaboration with Renault Sport F1, Angela Palmer deconstructed the world's most successful F1 engine, the RS27, with the help of Renault's pioneering engineers at their F1 laboratory in Paris. The V8 engine debuted in 2006 when it powered Fernando Alonso to the world championship and won a further four consecutive titles with Sebastian Vettel from 2010 to 2013.

For the project, she was supplied with the engineers' CAD drawings as well as unique engine parts from the V8, material normally guarded with the strictest secrecy to prevent industrial espionage.

Palmer's interest in engines began with the realisation that over 2 billion people in the world drive cars, yet few have any idea what lies under the bonnet.

How many of us know what a crankshaft looks like, never mind its function? I wanted to peel back that mysterious layer and reveal the astonishing piece of engineering which creates this mechanical ‘beating heart’ that’s so close to all of us, often all day, every day. Through the sculptures, I wanted to shift the focus from function and mechanism to the visual power of form and material.

The artist used a variety of materials dictated by the sculptural language of the individual components - for example, she has recreated the V8 crankshaft into a seven-foot high 'totem' in walnut while one of the small pinions inspired a four-foot column in Portland stone. Drawn to the 'intestinal' qualities of the exhaust systems, she doubled their size, creating the right in walnut and the left in red hot orange, reflecting its colour in action (the V8 exhaust reaches 1000 degrees celsius within 5 seconds). Palmer has also recreated the V8 engine life-size in glass, by hand drawing the cross-sections of the engine on multiple sheets of glass, presented on a slatted base. The impression is the engine 'floating' in space, accompanied by headphones with the primal roar of the much lamented sound of the V8, now replaced by the less thunderous downsized V6. This will be shown in the exhibition alongside the actual V8. More pictures of the exhibition available here.


 F1 helmet, cast from one worn by an F1 driver, hand-blown in crystal glass. Image by Todd-White Art Photography

During the project, Palmer also became fascinated by the world’s F1 circuit tracks. “Seen in the abstract, they are redolent of Eastern calligraphy.” She has recreated a collection of tracks, including Monaco, Spa-Francorchamps, Singapore, Brazil and Shanghai in wall mounted neon. In addition, she has borrowed a crash helmet worn by an F1 driver last year and has cast it in delicate lead crystal glass, reminding us of the ever-present fragility faced by drivers in the fastest motor sport in the world.

Go see Adrenalin exhibiton if you're in London! At the  Fine Art Society, November 19 to December 23, 2014.

About Angela Palmer

Angela Palmer is a sculptor and installation artist. Born in Scotland and based in Oxford, she studied at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art in Oxford and the Royal College of Art in London.


A key work by the artist is 'The Ghost Forest', a group of 10 mighty rainforest tree stumps with their roots intact, which she brought from a logged virgin rainforest in Africa and exhibited in Trafalgar Square, Copenhagen, Oxford and Wales.


A key theme in her work is the desire to 'map' and she has re-interpreted the human and animal form through her use of CT and MRI scans; she created her brain as a three-dimensional drawing in a glass chamber by engraving details of MRI slices on multiple glass sheets; this was unveiled as a permanent exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery of Scotland earlier this year. Palmer's glass sculpture of an Egyptian child mummy is in the permanent collection of the Ashmolean Museum. She has enjoyed the opportunity to work with scientists in every conceivable discipline, from radiologists and botanists, to engineers, astrophysicists, veterinary scientists and paediatric dentists specialising in Egyptian child mummies.


Her installation ‘Searching for Goldilocks’, which is in the collection of the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, represents NASA’s search for habitable planets.


Picture via