Van’s the Man



The thing about vans, campers, crew-cabs – the whole diverse genre of trucks, motorhomes, splitties and microbuses – is that they are more than just things that get the driver from A to B. They encapsulate and infuse the personality of the people who drive them.

But how you feel about them waxes and wanes depending on context and content.

We’ve all done it. We’ve all seen the ‘kid’s inheritence’ camper vans gathering ice in the driveways of suburban England over winter – and groaned and moaned whilst they glog up the tarmac arteries for a brief flurry come Whistun.

All the while most card-carrying petrolheads pretend to hate the legions of the taupe-wearing slow , we suspect that many of them are secretly craving the opportunity to get out on the road and live in a van for a few months of untrammelled fun.

But no matter how snobbish you are about them, truly cool vans whisper to us of youth. They whisper to us of adventure. They whisper to us of freedom.

Surfers, of course, have the van thing down to a fine art. To them, the van must not be simply utilitarian. It must also be an place of aesthetic correctness. And so do members of the Belgian chapter of the caravanning club – but for radically different reasons.

Between these poles of aesthetic acceptability lie a universe of ways of Vannish being.

In California, for example Vans can encapsulate a whole swathe of other meanings. Artist Joe Stevens work is reminiscent of Scooby-Doo’s Mystery Wagon, a ‘Dazed and Confused’ era of American nostalgia and a score of seventies sitcoms from the US. There’s something about Joe’s way of photographing workaday but colourful Econolines and other Detroit dustbins that strikes a nerve. They make us yearn for summer.

Simple fact is that It’s not what van you’re rocking. It’s how you’re rocking it.