ice cream van convention


The original idea was to organise a convention of mobilers. It was about a paradox, in that ice cream vans cease to function unless they are on their own. The image, of a flock of vans, was a metaphor for this and I was into the idea of film and ice cream both being durational, time based, the connections between small businesses and artists etc.



This has been such an ongoing project that I begin to think about it not being realised at all in its original concept, which was as an event, and that perhaps the material I have gathered can be used in a very different way. The original idea, from probably around 4 years ago (2000) was to organise a convention of vans in a location in the middle of Britain and get mobilers to drive and gather for one day. (There would then be a summer fair-style event with various seminars, workshops, games, performances, competitions etc., attended by the public). The original idea was about a paradox, in that vans cease to function unless they are on their own. The image, of a flock of vans, was a metaphor for this and I was into the idea of film and ice cream both being durational, time based, and the connections between small businesses and artists etc.

Once I started making research, going and talking with van owners and others in the industry, like the Ice Cream Alliance(ICA), I found that there were many issues I had not accounted for and original thoughts became redundant. There had to be a reason for mobilers to want to take part in something like this, above being paid for their time, which was granted, and although many seemed to think more communication and organisation would be good, there was an inbuilt individuality about each business operation, a competition rather than a sharing spirit. Also many of the solo operators need to be on their patch every single day. It started to feel like a problem that I was in a central position as a potential organiser, and that to have an authenticity and rationale the project should come from the mobilers themselves. Essentially the idea of it as an art piece became more problematic. Broader issues of post-industrialised landscapes and communities came up. Most ice cream van ‘centres’ are in places where mining or manufacturing has now gone, leaving impoverished areas. I found myself wanting to make short films about each mobiler and still have to resolve where these films belong – in the art world, in a planned museum about ice cream vans at Whitby Morrisons in Crewe?

Doing the research as part of Art For Networks was a mixed experience for me. Although the show enabled me to travel to key places – Edinburgh, Cardiff, Greater Manchester and Sunderland , it also exposed the research as art before it was ready. At one point the project was included in a documentary about Relational Art and the director has recently proposed the possibility of making the project as a film. This takes the idea somewhere else again, whereby the convention becomes an ambiguous fictional event within a factual documentary. Whether this will get off the ground remains to be seen! In the meantime I am only halfway through editing the many hours of footage of conversations with mobilers and plan to put this on the website so it’s accessible to them for comment as well as to offer it to the proposed museum in Crewe .

The research conversations have been shown in Art For Networks in Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leigh, Sunderland, Control seminar at Vilma Gold Gallery, London, Droit House with The Turner centre, Margate and the Ice Cream Alliance’s annual conference at Wembley 2002.




Contexts and venues

Art for Networks
Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh
Turnpike Gallery, Leigh
Chapter, Cardiff
Reg Vardy Gallery, Sunderland
Ice Cream Alliance Annual Conference, Wembley


Research Conversations


City Projects (Arts Council England)
Art for Networks (Henry Moore Foundation, Arts Council England)



Thank you to all in the ice cream trade who have taken part in Research Conversations:

Elsie grant and Ray Scott of Wearside Ices, Sunderland
Adrian Manfredi of Mr Curly Top, Newton-le-Willows, Greater Manchester
Robert Scappaticci, Ian McMullen, Peter Brown, of Gerard’s Ice Cream, Manchester
Anthony Rea, Greater Manchester,
Mr Federici of Fredericks, St Helen’s, Merseyside
Mr Vincent of Vernazza’s, St Helen’s, Merseyside
Steve Ewart of Showtime Concessionaire, The Wirral
Mr Mitchell of Mitchell’s, St Helen’s, Merseyside
Josef Boni of Marcantonio foods, Edinburgh
Reno and Kevin Di Rollo of Musselburgh, Edinburgh
Kenneth Hoy of Dobson’s Ices, Gorebridge, Edinburgh
Michael Luca of Luca’s of Musselburgh, Edinburgh
Tanya Arcari of R. Arcari’s, Edinburgh
Karen Parducci, Roy Parducci, Pete McMillan, Kenny Johnson of
Parducci’s, Johnstone
Paul Gillespie of Gillespies, West Lothian
George Clay of Mr Mikey, Tonyrefail, Cardiff
Martin Davies of Mr Whippy, Merthyr Tydfil
Mike Carrafa of Mikey’s Ices, Cardiff
Sue Richards of Minoli’s of Machen, cardiff
Kevin Jenkins of Mr Creemy, Cardiff
Christina Mcgarrigle of Whitby Morrison, Crewe

And for advice, support and contributions:

Harrogate and Wembley ICA conferences
Stuart Whitby of Whitby Morrison,
Lisa Greene and the Ice Cream Alliance,
Steve Tillyer of the Mister Softee Story,
Alan Earnshaw of Transpennine Publishing,
Roland Antonelli of Antonelli Brothers,
Luigi Coronato of Nottingham,
Chandra of Jala Ices, Coventry
Julie and John Frederick
Jaswinda Sadhra of Jazz Ices, Gosforth
Franco Gregorio of Newcastle,
Bruno Cabrelli of Manchester,
Ralph Jobes, Senior ICA president
Vince of Dudley
Wayne Adair, Papa Capaldis, Bangor, N.Ireland
Steve of Leicester
Adrian Bailey Classics, Leeds
Tino Panico, Royal Festival Hall
D’Arria Brothers, Tate Britain
Vittorio of Mitcham

Hannah Firth and Dean Woolford of Chapter Arts, all at The Fruitmarket Gallery, Rob Blackson and Sarah Cook at Vardy Gallery, Ele Carpenter and David Butler, Sally Tallant at the Serpentine Gallery, David Thorp of Henry Moore Contemporary Projects, Dan Kidner of City Projects, Gordon Dalton of Cardiff 2008, Andrea Crociani, Neil Chapman, Richard Owen, Simon Pope, Karen Stripp, Alison Brown and Mimi Hansmann


Saul Albert text (ask Saul)
Audio – conversation with Saul Albert
Publicity from Art For Networks Touring exhibition

videos made already

Josef Boni of Marcantonio foods
Reno and Kevin Di Rollo
Kenneth Hoy of Dobson’s Ices
Michael Luca of Luca’s of Musselburgh
Tanya Arcari of R. Arcari’s
Paul Gillespie of Gillespies
George Clay of Mr Mikey
Martin Davies of Mr Whippy
Mike Carrafa of Mikey’s Ices
Sue Richards of Minoli’s of Machen
Kevin Jenkins of Mr Creemy
Christina Mcgarrigle of Whitby Morrison

Elsie Grant of Wearside Ices
Adrian Manfredi of Mr Curly Top
Robert Scappaticci, Ian McMullen, Peter Brown, of Gerard’s Ice Cream
Anthony Rea
Mr Federici of Fredericks
Mr Vincent of Vernazza’s
Steve Ewart of Showtime Concessionaire at the grand national
Mr Mitchell of Mitchell’s