17 Jun 2012

Bicycle art. Frank Hinder

Posted by Mike Rubbo

Martin in Canberra wrote asking if I knew the bike art of Frank Hider done of the bike scene in Canberra after the 2nd World War.

I knew this lithograph.

But I had no clue about the other lovely stuff in the Hinder catalogue. Frank Hinder was born in Sydney 1906 and died in 1992.

Here,  the image is reversed and in color.

My curiosity was aroused, especially when I found that Hinder was interested on what now fascinates me, the power of the simple line.

When I saw his  exploratory drawings,  I realized we were on a similar path, him way before me of course

Then,  as I went though his catalogue,  I realized that that I actually  knew someone in one of the drawing, Ewart Collings, and what a great drawing of Ewart it was.

Who’s Ewart Collings nd how do I know him?

He was a friend of my family, and not long ago I found his widow,  Betty,  living in a Kurringai nursing home. She’s in her 90′s

Ewart was a camouflage artist during the war, helping design covers, drapes nets which would hide  planes and guns from eyes in the sky.

Next, I discovered that Frank Hider was  a  very important camouflage artist too.

Indeed,  he designed  something called the Hinder spider, a portable covering for guns and aircraft.

I found a photo of the spider in action but so effective was it,  that there’s nothing much to see.  See what I mean?

More visible, is this dummy aircraft also   by Hinder, meant to achieve the opposite, to  convince  spies in the skies that something is there when it actually  isn’t.

Interesting how artist were taken into the war effort, isn’t it?


I know this is getting  a long way from Hinder’s bikes. The artist was fascinated by what he called Dynamic Symmetry.

When in Canberra after the war,  discovering  lots of people on bikes, he went for the symmetry in the action.

I find I’m after exactly the same thing, and am amazed that others don’t see this rhythmic  potential of the bike,  artistically. I wish I could have talked to Frank.

Then, digging further into Frank’s story, I found perhaps the most important reason for making this discovery. In 1916,  Frank was a student at Newington College , a famous Sydney secondary school.

Who was the art teacher there at the time? Antonio Dattilo Rubbo, my Grandfather.

Here’s grandfather in a self portrait.

More on him at Family art stories Rubbo family

But did he teach Frank Hinder?

Undoubtedly,  because  Frank went on to be his student at a later school grandfather Nonno (what the family called him) ran at the Royal Art Society.

And here’s his brilliant pupil, Frank Hinder.

So, now thanks to Martin in Canberra I’ve got to know Frank Hinder, found the family connection, and go back to my own bike art freshly inspired.

I’ve been experimenting with very simply drawings in Indian ink. This challenging rider is one result.

This, I  transferred to this polymer plate, using the sun’s rays.

and then printed this on a nice textured paper.


And if you don’t care for her sullen look, how about this one called,  shady departure. First.  the plate.

and the solar print from  this plate.


My present challenge is to simplify my drawings and make them more decisive.

I rather like this self portrait, a younger me with my electric bike.

But I’ll leave you with some Hinder masterpieces.  Bike and non bike.


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3 Responses to “Bicycle art. Frank Hinder”

  1. Wow what an amazing collection and connection. Glad to hear it has inspired you on again.
    Is there a name for the geometric overlay style that Hinder uses, I recall seeing similar artwork somewhere?
    As an Architectural designer I appreciate the formality it brings.



  2. Peter, i don’t know that there is a name for that style. It;s got something of cubism and also futurism. I phone “dynamic symmetry” in the notes on Hinder.


    Mike Rubbo

  3. @Peter: Looks like Early Cubism to me.



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