A Mini with artistic flair

Brisbane’s Powerhouse encourages artists to paint their Minis.

Brisbane’s Powerhouse has opened its doors again after a COVID-19 shutdown with one of its newest exhibits being a distinctively painted Mini hatchback.

The iconic British car brand is owned by German car maker BMW these days and partnered with Brisbane’s Powerhouse arts hub on the month-long Mini Art Car competition. 

The idea reprises the famous BMW art car project first pioneered in 1975, when French driver Herve Poulain raced a BMW 3.0 CSL painted by American artist Alexander Calder at the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race.

Over the years artists including Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Australia’s Ken Done have contributed to the series of BMW art cars, but this particular collaboration called for artists to interpret the theme “Power Up” on a Mini Cooper 3-door hatch for the Brisbane Powerhouse at New Farm.

Mini Art Car at Brisbane Powerhouse

Melbourne-based graphic designer Kristin Cosenza (pictured below) took top honours with her work, which draws on racetracks and the way the Mini transitions from “normal” to “sport” mode, which the judges felt fulfilled the “Power Up” brief commendably. 

Kristin said her design was inspired by switching up the standard driving mode in her own Mini Cooper S Hatch to the more exhilarating sport mode, which prompts the cabin lighting to change colour and the infotainment screen within the car’s signature circular control centre to buzz with excitement. 

The shapes and forms created for the final canvas resemble a webbed spectrum of power, torque, handling ability and go-kart thrills, according to a statement from Mini. 

“These rounded spectra blend with the seemingly free-flowing curves of a racetrack,” a spokesperson said.

Kirsten Cosenza

“The punchy colours and fluid lines represent the feeling of freedom and celebrates creativity in all shapes.”

Ms Cosenza was thrilled to take top honours.

“I am super happy with my Mini Art Car win and that it was a part of reigniting the spark for Brisbane Powerhouse,” she said.

“Thanks to everyone involved for making my idea a reality.”

Mini Art Car winner at Brisbane Powerhouse.

Alex McLean, Head of Marketing for Mini Australia and New Zealand said: “Kristin Cosenza’s work is an almost organic pattern born from Mini and our go-kart heritage. Her design is lively and almost appears to move around the vehicle.” 

Kris Stewart, Artistic Director, Brisbane Powerhouse, added: “We liked that with Kristin’s design, whilst echoing the drive, we could interpret the shapes to mean multiple things, for example to be shape shifting, adapting and moving with the times.” 

Kristin joins the likes of David Bowie, Kate Moss and Paul Smith who have also designed their own Minis. 

Her Mini Art Car will be on display at the Bisbane Powerhouse until the end of August, after which it will hit the streets again in its distinctive livery.