8 Oct 2012
Newcastle held its first weekend Bike festival last weekend, Oct. 6th and 7th 2012. The city is coming on fast as a bike friendly place and this was a way to anchor that fact in the public mind.
I was invited to show my bike art. At first, it was planned that we’d show in the historic museum buildings but then we got moved to a marquee on the Boardwalk which was much better in terms of passing foot traffic.
The organizers had supplied us with heavy carpet covered screens to which my light art works were easily affixed with the help of Velcro dots.
Those dots are the way to go, one can play around with the arrangement so easily. But what to do, I wonder without those screens which are way too heavy for us to lug around in our tiny Getz?
Katya was with me for the whole weekend and was a superb seller. Here’s me in front of our stall and…
….my darling helper, the exotic Russian.
A huge asset in terms of getting people to stop and look was our Sociable, a strange side by side bike which we think is the only example in Australia. Parked out front, it was a great draw-card.
See the two seats side by side? If you don’t believe this works, take a look at these two who’ve taken it for a spin, managing to master its peculiarities.
It is not an easy beast to ride, though.
And it’s been in danger of being sold to some sucker for some time now, ever since I bought it from the Canberra Bike Museum 3 years ago. (Museum since Closed)
But now, the old sociable has proved it’s drawing power as a two wheel freak, and so I’ve decided not to sell it
Nearby, were interesting stalls . Our immediate neighbors had beautiful bikes of the sit-up sort on show.
We could not stop looking at the superbly crafted machines from Belgium and Denmark.
Suellyn admitted the color of the one we liked best, was not her favorite, a Belgian machine I believe.
I’m always on the lookout for bikes and riders to draw. I’m not interested in bikes alone, no matter how elegant. They have to have a rider , and a graceful rider moreover.
When I saw this woman browsing opposite, caught her easy graceful stance, I knew I had to see her on one of those bikes
Photograph her and and transform her, eventually, into a bit of my art.
Doesn’t that bike look like it’s just begging to be ridden ?
Well, we both got our way.
Here’s the pic . I’ll probably work with. I think she was working for the Bikefest, and so she’ll hopefully get to see all this and follow the fortunes of her image. .
Or maybe I’ll use this one. What do you think?
She’s not completely comfortable, holding her head a little tensely. I may change that, or make it the point of the drawing.
Soon after that, I tried a cargo bike for the first time. It was surprisingly easy to to steer and rider friendly, though I still felt a bit decrepit compared with she on the blue bike
That is, until I got momentum. Then, I saw myself a compelling image, suitable for a nation-wide cargo bike ad campaign.
Picture credit goes to Katya who applauded helpfully.
The Sunday was our big selling day, the weather being better, the crowds thicker, and our message more resonant
As people came in past the Sociable, into the tent…
…I explained how I saw buying bike art as a political act. Sort of like GetUp in the art world
I claimed that when people put good bike art on their walls, it becomes a statement about the value of the activity. Art brings status and cachet to the beautiful business of biking.
People seemed to like the idea and began buying, especially rubbings, no doubt pedaling home fast to politicize their walls before the visitors arrived.
As the numbers grew, we felt that Bike art was on a roll at last!.
What sold? Well, the digital prints of the rubbings sold best, being the cheapest, I guess. They went for $40. They’re certainly a way to have a nice image, but there’s nothing handmade about them.
The rider reflecting on the banks of the Seine, is always snapped up.
Being a rubbing, means that I coat the paper with glue, apply color all over, and then rub it off the make shapes and highlights. No brush work involved.
This one, two riders in Prague, is loved for the colors and often sells well.
The third digital print sold on the weekend, is one of my most popular rubbings. The original left Australia in early 2012, bound for for the US, fetching a nice price.
Again, the digital copy was $40. It’s called, Reaching for her Purse.
We sold old one drawing which surprised me. I thought the simple lines, the economy of the drawn images, would appeal more.
Of course they cost more. We’ were asking $150 but settled for less because the buyer was so helpful in helping us with the setting up
Actually, it’s not true Late Sunday, we sold this drawing too, done with heavy Indian ink.
It shows workers leaving a factory in the 40′s, their handlebars turned up . It was bought by a guy who’d worked in a factory like that here in Newcastle, and remembered the rides to work.
My picture framer thinks this is one of my best, and urges me to do more such dribbly ink work. Anyone agree?
Lino cuts are always a goer, being so bold. I was happy that this Tapestry of bikes sold, since it’s usually passed over. No more.
I’ll probably start a numbered addition of this one, now that it’s proved itself popular.
I was equally delighted that we sold two artist proofs of Riding through the Bois de Boulonge
It’s a strange and subtle image, full of story as art often is.
Who’s the faceless man she just passed? Did they look at each other briefly as she headed deeper into the Bois?
Lastly, the image of a Velib, one of the public bikes of Paris, see here lost in traffic.
As well as pitching and selling furiously, we had a few snatched moments to drop by other stalls and greet colleagues also committed to a stately sort of riding.
There was Tom and partner at the trendy Treadlie magazine stall. Treadlie comes from Melbourne.
And I saw Paul from Gazelle Cycles. He distributes an amazing E bike. Paul also led a study tour to Holland two years ago which is still talked about.
Maurice Wells I somehow missed getting into a photograph.
Maurice runs Glow worm bikes in Sydney, selling new high quality E bikes, and second hand regular sit-up bikes he imports from Holland.
I can’t help ending with some juicy images from the stall right in front of us, Morgan Cycles.
Or should I end more menacingly with this Knuckle duster bike?
Or end with a really nice pair of baskets?
This is certainly the way to end, and yet not end, because I haven’t mentioned the great talk I heard on Smart Moves by Anne Lusk, Research Scientist at Harvard School of Public health.
Anne talked about the health and economic benefits cycling delivers to a city, saying Newcastle had great potential to become an Australian leader . (Bikefest Newcastle bought her out, I gather.)
Anne also touched on matters germaine to those baskets and my current interest, namely how to get more Australians shopping on bikes
It seems to me there’s a natural alliance just waiting to be created between Chambers of Commerce which work to promote small businesses on the high streets of the land, and the bike shopper.
If Chambers of Commerce were to get their members to promote shopping by bike, installing bike racks out front, and perhaps offering discounts to those who come on a bike, we could get a win win situation going quite easily.
We mostly live quite close to our local shops as opposed to supermarkets, often more distant. We can thus shop easily and frequently, using basket rigged bikes. That’s for us both heath and money-wise, and will also help keep the friendly world of high street shopping, going strong.
Mike Rubbo. Oct 9, 2012