In a world first, Virgin Atlantic has launched a commercial art gallery at 35,000ft, offering Upper Class passengers flying between London and New York the opportunity to view, and purchase, a series of one-of-a-kind paintings by renowned British artist, Ben Eine, all from the comfort of their seat.
The Gallery in the Air, which takes place between 1 to 28 February 2013, is the latest cutting-edge initiative from Virgin Atlantic to further enhance passengers’ inflight shopping and entertainment experience, taking the display and sale of fine art into uncharted territory. Long-haul travellers wishing to experience the Gallery in the Air’s first exhibition – which will feature a collection of ten bespoke works of art priced between £2,500 and £15,000 (approximately AUD$3700 – AUD$22650) in Ben Eine’s trademark typography style – are able to book their seats now on the Virgin Atlantic website. Each piece is inspired by the adventurous and innovative spirit of Virgin Atlantic, its entrepreneurial owner Richard Branson, and the iconic transatlantic cities of London and New York.
Upper Class passengers will be able to enjoy the art gallery experience at every step of their journey. The eye-catching canvases will be on display across the London Heathrow, JFK and Newark Clubhouses and, as passengers take their seats, they can take a virtual tour of the Gallery in the Air, look behind-the-scenes at the making of the Virgin Atlantic artworks by Eine in his studio and buy the unique pieces of art for themselves in exactly the same way as they would a duty-free shopping purchase.
Eine is famed for his striking and cutting-edge street art style featuring vibrant and often controversial letters and phrases. He shot to international fame when David Cameron presented one of his works to President Obama as a gift on his first official state visit in 2010, but is perhaps best known for ‘Alphabet Street’ – the shutters and murals he painted in his trademark colours and typography in Middlesex Street, London.
To create the Gallery in the Air, Eine not only called upon his own experiences of the airline and his view on the two transatlantic cities of London and New York, but also undertook research on Sir Richard Branson himself, reading his biographies and watching many of his inspirational speeches. The resulting artworks feature words and phrases including: ‘VIRGIN ON THE IMPOSSIBLE’, ‘NOTHING TO LOSE’, ‘GREAT ADVENTURE’ and ‘MAN AND HIS MACHINES’ as well as ‘NEW YORK SAUCE’, ‘AFTERNOON TEA’ and ‘TWENTY FIRST CENTURY METROPOLIS’ – the latter of which is an update of the canvas that currently hangs in the White House.
Ben Eine, artist, says:
“My philosophy through all my work, be it on canvas or on the street, is about pushing boundaries and not simply going with the flow because everyone else is doing something a certain way. I respect Virgin Atlantic’s brave and challenging attitude and the way it goes against the grain, so I jumped at the chance to be part of the first ever Gallery in the Air. We have created a completely original way of appreciating and buying art – a new frontier for the industry.”
An addition to the Gallery in the Air collection, set to be on display at the London Heathrow Clubhouse, is a one-of-a-kind, not for sale portrait of Virgin Atlantic founder, Sir Richard Branson, built up of hundreds of pixels in a similar style to another of Eine’s iconic pieces – a portrait of HRH Prince Charles which resides on the side of a building in his hometown of Hastings.
Sir Richard Branson says:
“We like to do things differently at Virgin Atlantic and are always finding new ways to surprise and entertain our customers. Our new Gallery in the Air is the first ever commercial art gallery in the sky and is a good example of this.
“I am a huge fan of Ben’s work and like us, he does things differently and doesn’t follow the crowd. We’re delighted to be working with him, mixing things up a bit and having a bit of fun along the way”
The Gallery in the Air with Ben Eine is set to be the first in a series of unique on-board collaborations with renowned artists, and is the latest feature of Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class cabin that aims to enhance the passenger experience on long-haul flights.
Following a £100M investment in early 2012, the Virgin Atlantic Upper Class cabin has received a number of significant enhancements in recent months. With luxury and comfort at its heart, the cabin sets a new standard for the industry and boasts an in-flight bar and social area, newly designed seats, ambient lighting, a cutting edge in-flight entertainment system and even custom glassware and tableware, making it the most luxurious way to travel by air.