From a modest home studio to a larger-than-life sculpture at the prestigious McLaren HQ, Vuse and The McLaren F1 Team’s Driven by Change programme celebrates an emerging artist celebrating a traditional form of Mexican folk art

Thinking of Formula 1, you might naturally conjure an impression of incomparable speed, noise, and state-of-the-art precision engineering. You might think of the elite sport’s associations with wealth, glamour, and prestige. But a new artwork at the headquarters of The McLaren F1 Team (an iconic building designed by visionary architect Norman Foster) stands as a reminder not of the exclusive, future-facing allure of the sport, but of The McLaren F1 Team’s roots and founding principles. 

In a bold and joyful ode to Mexican tradition, number one global vape brand* Vuse and partner The McLaren F1 Team have unveiled an eighth-foot-tall sculpture of a Kiwi bird in the traditional folk art style alebrije, created from designs by Mexican artist Luis Pablo and heralding the start of the Formula 1 Gran Premio De La Ciudad De México 2022.

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“Alebrijes are sculptures of fantastical creatures painted in vibrant colours,” explains Pablo, who takes inspiration from the “many combinations of bright, vivid colours” he encounters at the markets and on the streets of his hometown, Oaxaca. In recognition of The McLaren F1 Team’s founder, racing driver Bruce McLaren and his New Zealand heritage, the artist has reimagined the country’s national bird, decorating his creation with the signature colours of The McLaren F1 Team.

Pablo, himself a Formula 1 fan, tells Dazed, “The McLaren F1 Team is renowned for its mantra which encompasses team spirit and perseverance in the quest to excel. These are qualities I hold in high esteem. In this work, you can see that I used the McLaren colour palette –  papaya and blue. This was an important detail to unite my Mexican heritage with the team.” He continues, “This Kiwi represents the union of two cultures, New Zealand and Mexico. Vuse and The McLaren F1 Team symbolise the power of a legacy, which was my motivation to create this Kiwi. ”

The sculpture is the latest outcome of an ongoing joint creative programme initiated by Vuse and The McLaren F1 Team. Driven by Change was forged with the guiding principle of celebrating the work of underrepresented artists from around the world. The programme was launched in 2021 with an inaugural artwork by Dubai-based artist Rabab Tantawy (who designed a one-off livery), and more recent commissions have included a large-scale mural by Colombian street artist, DAST.

“When I started carving sculptures in my small studio at home, I didn’t imagine that they would be recreated in such a large format and that they would be exhibited in the UK,” Pablo marvels. His original small-scale, hand-carved model acted as a maquette which was then 3D-scanned to become the final larger-than-life sculpture. Created in partnership with Jahee Campbell-Brennan at Wavey Dynamics, the eight-foot Kiwi is formed of high-density foam similar to the type used as a core material of F1 cars’ wings, floors, and wishbones. But the artist’s hand is still very much a tangible presence in the finished work. Pablo says, “It was fantastic to take my paintbrush and put the final touches to the sculpture in this iconic place.”

“I would like new generations of artists to see my story and be inspired” – Luis Pablo

In keeping with the spirit of the Driven by Change initiative, Pablo envisions his own work as an inspirational part of the ongoing project as it continues to not only platform the work of hitherto unrepresented artists, but also to encourage them. “I hope other artists are motivated by the initiative,” he reflects. “I would like new generations of artists to see my story and be inspired, to embrace their passion, never abandon their roots and to take advantage of the talent they already have.” Just as he continues to keep alive the artistic traditions of the past, he sees his contribution to this lineage as part of a succession stretching out into the future: “I am eager to know who the next artist will be to walk in my footsteps and share their passion on this international platform.”

Vuse is an alternative to traditional tobacco products that contains nicotine and is suitable for adult nicotine consumers.

* Based on Vype/Vuse estimated value share from RRP in measured retail for vapour (ie total vapour category value in retail sales) in the USA, Canada, France, UK, Germany. These five markets cover an estimated 77 percent of global vapour closed system NTO, calculated in June –July 2021.