At first glance, this could be an art class anywhere. A group of students – some knelt on the floor in front of easels, others with oversize clipboards propped on their laps – sit in a circle around the model. One girl holds a pencil up, eyes squinting, to measure the model’s proportions. Others sketch intently, heads moving in a constant side-to-side motion – model, drawing, model, drawing, model. One or two look around the room as if to say, what am I doing here?
As you may have guessed by now, this isn’t an ordinary art class – and the model they’re all sketching is not an ordinary life model. No. It’s a beautiful Bobbin bike (a Bobbin Scout, I think) and this was one of the workshops at the Eat, Sleep, Ride, Repeat event at the V&A museum, held last Friday evening as part of their Friday Late series.
Billed as ‘an evening that will explore the diverse design culture that surrounds and is inspired by the bicycle’, the free event was bursting with bike-related talks, workshops, installations and performances all on the theme of bikes and design.
So bursting was it, in fact, that I didn’t actually see half of it. So if you’re looking for an in-depth review of everything that happened that evening – well, this isn’t going to be it.
I didn’t take part in the Bobbin Bicycles Drawing Studio. After having missed the start of one session, I had every intention of going back for the next one – but, you know, there was so much else going on that I got a bit distracted and before I knew it, I’d missed it.
I didn’t manage to find a single one of the five Bicycle Taxidermy ‘beasts’ dotted around the museum – despite having a map showing exactly where they were.
I didn’t watch the One Wheel Motion BMX bike crew. They were in the courtyard and frankly, it was too bloody cold to stand around outside.
I didn’t go to either of the two talks: Bike V Graphic Design, and Bicycle Cultures: A Secret History (1869 – 2013). I could’ve gone to the latter – and indeed, I wanted to – but that would’ve meant I would have seen even less of the event than I did. Sigh. If only I’d had a Time Turner, I could’ve been in two places at the same time. Or indeed, if only I’d got there earlier, I would’ve had no need for one.
So what did I do? I wandered, mainly. I deepened my lust for old-school bikes at the Indian Bicycle Shop. I picked up a coffee from Look Mum No Hands! and vowed that I will actually stop by their café sometime, having thought about it ever since they opened. I flicked through a few copies of Boneshaker Magazine, and admired their wall of bike art. I watched a few of the bike inspired films: Wheels and Reels, and Electric Pedals (though not the pedalling itself – yet another thing I didn’t do). I made my very own copy of the bike-inspired screen print designed especially for the evening by artist Rebecca J Kaye.
Overall, I was genuinely fascinated by how the humble bicycle could be the source of so much creativity. There was such an amazing, inspiring and inspired variety of bike-inspired work to see and get involved in – much that I’d never even heard of before.
Although I didn’t get to see half of what I wanted to, I’ve still come away with so many different ideas of things to explore, places to visit and magazines to read. It’s all adding to my growing appreciation of the bike as an object of aesthetic beauty, and not just a means of getting from A to B.
Who knows, once the weather improves I might even recreate the bicycle drawing studio in the comfort of my own back garden, with my trusty steed as the model.