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Virgin Atlantic’s new Gallery in the Air isn’t as exciting as it sounds

Jan 22, 2013 12:56 am

Skift Take

The concept might procure images of champagne-sipping flyers browsing fine art, but in reality the pieces by street artist Ben Eine are located in airport lodges and only available for in-flight purchase.

— Samantha Shankman

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Ted and Jen  / Flickr

A multi-coloured Oranges and Lemons-inspired mural by Ben Eine on the exterior wall of the London Graphics Centre. Ted and Jen / Flickr


Virgin’s Upper Class passengers will be able to buy £15,000 artworks “as they would a duty-free shopping purchase”.

Passengers travelling on Virgin Atlantic Upper Class flights between London and New York this February will have the opportunity to avail of a new in-flight service, with the route hosting what will be the first ever airborne commercial art gallery.

‘The Gallery in the Air’ will operate from February 1 to 28 and will showcase the work of Ben Eine. The British artist came to global prominence when David Cameron presented one of his works to President Obama as a gift on the Prime Minister’s first state visit to Washington. The artist’s street art is also visible throughout London, most notably on Middlesex Street – also now known as Alphabet Street – where Eine has painted each letter of the alphabet on 26 consecutive shop shutters.

The Gallery in the Air exhibition will feature 10 of Eine’s trademark typography-style works, with prices ranging from £2,500 to £15,000. Canvases will be on display in Virgin Atlantic’s London Heathrow, JFK and Newark Clubhouses and, once on board, Upper Class passengers will be able to take a virtual tour of the Gallery in the Air and see ‘behind the scenes’ footage of their construction, before buying the pieces in the same way as they would make a duty-free shopping purchase.

The collection of artworks has drawn inspiration from Sir Richard Branson as well as the two cities served by The Gallery in the Air’s route. Phrases incorporated into the paintings include: ‘Virgin on the Impossible’, ‘Great Adventure’, Man and his Machines’ and ‘New York Sauce’.

Speaking of his partnership with Virgin Atlantic, Eine has said: “We have created a completely original way of appreciating and buying art – a new frontier for the industry.” The collaboration is to be the first in a series of partnerships between the airline and well-known artists; details on future showcased artists have yet to be released.

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