I was was with Holly and Sam on a bicycle ride in Oxford recently, in training for the Virgin Strive Challenge. We were passing The Manor, Virgin Records world-first country recording studio and manor house where everyone from Mike Oldfield to The Rolling Stones made music. So we went up to the front gate and rang the bell, on the off chance they would let us in.
I hadn’t been there for many years, and the grandchildren had come along, so we wanted to show them around. Somebody answered the doorbell and asked who it was. “It’s Richard Branson,” I said. “I used to live here; I was wondering if we could come in and take a walk around the garden?”
"How do we know you’re really Richard Branson,” they asked (they were using Ring, the smart doorbell business we invested in).
“Good question,” I replied.
“Ok, tell me what’s on the mural in the house?”
“That’s easy, there’s a picture of my daughter Holly and my son Sam, painted when the were very young.”
“That’s correct. Welcome! Go along through the gate and take a look around.” We enjoyed a lovely trip down memory lane, and had the pleasure of seeing the mural itself, which was painted by the wonderful artist Ken White.
Ken also painted The Townhouse, our stunning old studio in London, as well as murals at Virgin locations around the world, from hotels like La Residencia to Virgin Atlantic airport lounges and Virgin Megastores.
I’ve included a few of his fantastic works within this blog, and there are plenty more over at his website. As well as the Manor mural, I particularly love The Sex Pistols mural for The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle.
Rebellious artwork played a huge role in the rise of Virgin Records, from Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood’s era-defining work with The Sex Pistols, to our use of highly creative campaigns to launch our airlines. Who remembers BA Don’t Give A Shiatsu? (They didn't give massages on board. We did!) The iconic artwork really helped us to take on the big boys and establish our brand, to help more customers.
We’re shining a spotlight on how creative culture can help foster a healthy society at the moment on virgin.com - head over to Creative Matters to find out more.