How to Build & Bring a Mobile Art Project to the Paddock

Sep 27, 2020 | Art

Mutant Art Car!? Bro, I am in. What else do I need to know? We tapped the beautiful maple tree of knowledge and sustenance that is Lumos’s brain again to find out what other sticky tips he could provide us on how to create and bring a Mobile Art Cars to the Paddock. So bust out your syrup bucket, staple it to this tree, catch all this goodness…

“Kiwiburn has had at least one mobile art project every year since the event moved to the North Island in 2007. These creations have encouraged so much. Where else will you find a group of kids battling an assortment of pirates and other villains on the deck of your Pirate Ship and making them walk the plank?

Events like Burningman, Burning Seed, Blazing Swan, and Afrikaburn have room for Mobile Art projects with large sound systems to park up and create a full party zone; however, at Kiwiburn our site and sound restrictions don’t lend themselves to this. Nevertheless, we have static theme camps able to offer this instead.

I believe art becomes more exciting and more visible when it moves. Because it moves, you don’t always know where you will come across it, so there is the extra element of surprise added to your day and night activities. Many awesome Burners I know suffer from an assortment of chronic illnesses and mobility restricting health issues, some days they struggle to function normally. I have been using my Mobile Art projects to assist them in getting around the Paddock for several years. I am now looking at what can be done to expand this service.

If you have created the project to just give yourself a way to get around and you are not mobility restricted, then perhaps you need to rethink your plans! Your project could be something that literally transforms some else’s Burn by giving them mobility or even just a beautiful moment riding through the Paddock. Like all art projects, you will be expected to complete a health and safety plan and do what you can to minimise the hazards you present to participants. If the project has a sound system, you will have to obey the sound regulations at Kiwiburn just like everybody else.

You are also responsible for getting your Mobile Art project to the Paddock and back home once it is all over. Ask around in the community if you need help, but remember many people are already bringing a trailer full of gear. When designing your project think about its length, width, height, and weight to ensure it can safely travel the distance to the Paddock. Partial assembly may be required once you get it to the Paddock, so make that as simple as possible.

The driver of a Mutant Vehicle is responsible for the safety of their passengers and the participants all around them. They must be sober and in a good head-space when driving. Nobody wants to be responsible for creating a medical situation or leaving a participant injured for life.

Over the years, there have been a couple of Art Cars that, once assembled, were restricted to the area they were constructed in at Kiwiburn  because their width exceeded that of the farm gates between most of the Paddock. Sometimes the build crew have been known to install flags (or similar safety signals) on poles across the top of a gate resulting in a limitation in maximum vehicle height.

The dirt tracks between the upper and lower Paddock get slippery when it rains (and yes some years we have had lots of heavy rain before the end of the event) so off road tyres are generally better than road tyres if you want to traverse these.

Almost all projects will blow your budget for time and costs, so plan for that to happen and maybe you will be pleasantly surprised. The most expensive part is the host vehicle, so ask around and see who may have something. I loaned my quad bike to Angela the Angler Fish (as their budget didn’t have enough money to cover a host vehicle) and, instead, they could spend that money on a cool light system.

My projects have returned to the Paddock over the years and have changed during the time, so I believe in allowing for multiple evolutionary stages in the life of the project. Allow time for an assembly and a test run at home – well before you head to the Paddock – to ensure it will function as planned. If it is an electric vehicle, get some idea of how long the batteries will last for and, if necessary, talk to PURE-C (Paddock Unlimited Renewable Energy Co-op) or somebody else about battery recharging options.

Most Mobile Art projects are based on older vehicles, so there is a good chance of mechanical or electrical failure at some point during the event. Be prepared to spend time fixing any issues and going off-site for parts. If you don’t have the skills to handle repairs, feel free to ask on the Paddock as many participants are happy to help you get it going again so we can all have some fun.

Okay, so you were successful with your Mobile Art project but now it’s time to dismantle it! Get it loaded on the trailer and take it home, where ideally you need a dry garage or similar to park it in before its next outing. If you are lucky, you can find other events and parades during the year to help justify all the time and money you poured into it. Any batteries it uses should be placed on a charger for a regular top up or they will be dead when you go to use it next, this can be a very expensive mistake for an electric vehicle.

In the old days, when I had the Pirate Ship that sailed the lake at the old site, I loved walking down to the beach and finding kids (of all sizes) exploring their imagination as they played on it. I would then climb on, unlock the outboard motor, load up many of those participants and take them for a cruise out onto the lake.

I don’t get too specific about the final design of any new project, as I wait to see what I can pick up cheap or free from dumpsters, op shops, scrap dealers and our community. Because of this, my art projects cost less but take a much longer time to realise. The first evolution of the Mad Max bike took a couple of years before it was Paddock ready – if you rush it you may be disappointed in the result.

Details about building and registering a mutant art car will be added to be added to the Kiwiburn website soon. Watch this space!

If you are thinking of building some Mobile Art, and you would like to chat with Lumos about your plans, you can contact him on 021-057-2722 or at

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