“I can’t get it in!” Gwendoline Christie exclaimed rather dramatically during the lighting up ceremony of set designer Gary Card’s extraordinary Christmas Tree. The actress was struggling to link the cable connected to the giant electric tree to the tank of the Vauxhall Ampera car. Despite the hideous cold we all felt a joyful and futuristic Christmas warmth spread once Gwendoline had managed to ignite the lights.

The talented set designer Gary Card were commissioned to design this tree by Vauxhall Motors and King’s Cross Filling Station (the surreal location at Regents Canal where the spectacle took place) as the big finale to the Vauxhall Ampera season. He based the design of the tree on the angles of the Ampera with a little nod to the robot iconography he loved as a child. According to Gary Card, “When Vauxhall approached me to design a Christmas tree, my immediate response was to create something mechanical. I loved the idea of applying the almost alien, sci-fi design of the Ampera engine to the warm, familiar silhouette of the Christmas tree. I wanted to celebrate the fact that the Ampera is an electric car by having an electrical mechanism powering the Christmas tree”.

The comedy sketch noises and bumpy movements that escaped from the car after Gwendoline Christie and designer Giles Deacon had snuck inside weren’t just for our entertainment. Rather, it gave an amusing twist to the fact that the action the couple performed inside the car released excess energy for the tree to show that it’s capable of much more than just glorious decoration. While steam erupted from underneath and a light show began, mechanical parts rhythmically started to extend, which created a very cybernetic Christmas spectacle. Suck on that, traditional Regent Street!

Words by Juliette Sijnja

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Gary Card, Giles Deacon, Gwendoline Christie, kxfs, Vauxhall,