To celebrate the centenary of the Spirit of Ecstasy, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars commissioned British fashion photographer John Rankin to produce a gallery of 100 images inspired in one way or another by the Flying Lady.
The Spirit of Ecstasy Flying Lady has been on the bonnet of every Rolls Royce since one hundred years ago. It was crafted by Charles Robinson Sykes and he apparently modeled it on the body of Eleanor Velasco Thornton. Rankin will be using his wife and model Tuuli Shipster for the 100 portraits he is going to produce. Speaking of which, here’s the first two. I don’t know much about art, but I think they are pretty amazing.
Spirit of Ecstasy #1 launches a commission which sees Rankin offered full artistic licence to create a modern and very personal interpretation of the Spirit of Ecstasy, an unprecedented approach for a brand like Rolls-Royce Motor Cars and its iconic figure. Featuring Tuuli in silhouette, draped in flowing fabric, the image has undeniable resonance with the flying lady, echoing the qualities which inspired Sykes 100 years ago, whilst capturing the mystery within which she is shrouded; for the question of whether or not Eleanor Thornton was truly the inspiration for the Spirit of Ecstasy 100 years ago remains one of intrigue and debate rather than hard fact.1
The Rankin: Spirit of Ecstasy collection will evolve organically in the months ahead, incorporating a variety of themes as part of Rankin’s exploration of the contemporary Spirit of Ecstasy. Power, the beauty of age, intrigue and mystery, speed, wind and metallic will blend with materials, fabrics and paint, to create an unprecedented selection of photographic portraits which will complement each other as a full set, but also work individually to ensure global appeal. The work will feature a selection of women of different ages and cultures, symbolising the femininity of the Spirit of Ecstasy.
“This is one of the biggest projects I have ever taken on,” commented Rankin. “The images will be a statement about the modern day Rolls-Royce; they will feel fresh, directional and original, while also being beautiful and inspirational. The portraits will comprise a variety of perspectives, including full length as well as close-up shots incorporating facial features – an eye, a mouth – to reflect a unique interpretation of the figurine’s connotations, while quietly symbolising its classic underpinnings.”
Torsten Müller-Ötvös, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars CEO added, “Rankin’s powerful portraits are part of contemporary iconography. His talent for capturing the strength and character of his subjects makes him the ideal photographer to take the Spirit of Ecstasy into the 21st century. I very much look forward to presenting this unique photographic collection to the world.”
Rankin: Spirit of Ecstasy will tour throughout 2011. Original portraits will be presented at a range of events across the world. In addition, Rolls-Royce owners and guests will be invited to a series of exclusive private views at Rolls-Royce showrooms in the months ahead, starting at Rolls-Royce Motor Cars London on 10 May.