Branding Billy Apple
Aucklander Barrie Bates became Pop artist Billy Apple in 1962, and since then – his name now trademarked – has always made art, life. His 2008 solo exhibition ‘The Bruce and Denny Show’ at Two Rooms gallery in Auckland, pays homage to people’s collections (he has one of his own – a British motorcycle and car collection) with an installation featuring M8A-2 McLaren, which McLaren drove in 1968. Apple’s five-decade-long career has focused on the idea of the artist as a “brand” with his own every day activities elevated to the status of art. For the ‘Bruce and Denny Show’, however, he shifted the spotlight from himself to Bruce McLaren and Denny Hulme, and with the launch of the Can-Am series in 1966 racing cars became, as Apple says, “like moving billboards.” Apple returned to live in Auckland from New York in 1990.