Ruth Sax is transported back in time as she meets Dolly – a caravan with a difference.
Sally Harris is a lady with many hats, which is just as well really as there are many hats available to model once you step inside Dolly; the mobile photo booth caravan, aka the Instavan.
Once inside the Instavan it’s as though you have been transported back in time. It’s like your granny’s living room, just with a little more chintz and more than a little quirk.
Which is exactly what Sally, who lives in Findon with her husband and four children, was aiming for when she was designing and creating the vintage mobile caravan photo booth.
“I wanted it to look like an old granny’s living room, a very glamorous granny,” chuckles Sally.
There is no doubt she accomplished her design brief, with flamboyant flamingos adorning the walls in all their demure hot pink grandeur and a kitsch vintage table and cocktail shakers, to make it feel like you really are in granny’s front room, albeit one very cool granny.
So is this what Sally envisaged when she first set out to create her Instavan dream?
Revealing the creation process and transformation of a £250 caravan she bought from eBay to the show stopping Instavan it is today, Sally recalls: “I think when you are doing something up it leads you, rather than you deciding what its going to look like.
“I love going to car boots sales and charity shops, so I’ll pick one piece up and then I can build up things from a specific piece.”
The Instavan is easy to spot as its logo is similar to the old Instagram design – appealing to the younger generation’s snap-and-post mentality.
As more-and-more of us document every move of our lives and every special occasion, the Instavan offers a unique way to do so without spending all night taking pictures.
“When people really are having a great time, you don’t actually have time to be taking loads of photos, which is why the Instavan is so great,” Sally enthuses. “It is really good seeing people when they’re happy, losing their inhibitions and laughing with one another.”
The idea behind the Instavan means you can record a memorable occasion from weddings, parties or anniversaries and all you have to worry about is having fun.
The Instavan prints instant photos, like a traditional photobooth, providing a great keepsake from the day.
There is a prop box, filled with more options than a Lady GaGa video – from a telephone and wigs in every colour of the rainbow, to a plastic mallard duck – all of which add that extra something to the photos.
As Sally regales me with events she has been to over the past year with Dolly, it is clear to see the Instavan is her baby, which she uses as a creative outlet.
As a former art and textiles teacher, she says: “I always love to create and this sort of project is great.”
Sally pulls out her Instavan scrapbook, stuffed with plans and drawings from the humble beginnings, wallpaper cuttings and colour boards and documenting the whole process of the transformation of the caravan.
The Instavan has now been up and running for more than a year.
“I had my first wedding in July, 2015,” Sally recalls. “I’d been looking for a caravan for ages, I’ve always fancied doing up a caravan.”
Asked where the idea came from, she says: “Maybe it comes from childhood, having a dolls’ house, having that little space and doing something with it. Getting something that’s mine and doing it up to satisfy that creative part of me.”
So were there any teething problems with the Instavan?
“I think when I do anything, if something goes wrong it’s usually a really good way to find a better way,” she says.
“There was tweaking along the way, the main problem was the mudflaps.”
Talking of her other hats, Sally, along with her husband, Lewis, run The Gun Inn pub in Findon village, so how does she balance the Instavan, the pub and looking after four children?
“Living in a pub it’s like a community, it’s a bonus that I never thought about before we did,” she explains.
“I have all this help which makes it possible, which I couldn’t do without.”
Sally and her family moved to the pub six-and-a-half years ago and she had never poured a pint beforehand.
But new challenges and projects are where Sally is at her happiest and her passions flourish, as is evident from the Instavan.
To book Dolly the Instavan for your special occasion check out the website www.theinstavan.co.uk
Pictures: Timothy Sax and Luisa Scammel
September 22, 2016 Culture and Events