Monday, 18 August 2014

Onochord Bicycle Bell cycle ride

Whilst I'm not enjoying the summer holidays, which consists largely of buying school uniform, and some time tidying and re-organising my studio, I've been escaping from the house to go cycling.
I'm now a qualified adult cycle training instructor, and a Skyride Leader, so I've been earning some extra money (and therefore not having a holiday) doing this. As I normally go out and ride my bike for transport and leisure, it's logical to earn money doing it to support my practice (ironically, because being an artist doesn't pay the bills). #paying artists
This is what happens, unlike the arts, where you pay to enter a submission only to be told "unfortunately your work wasn't successful", you go and take your trainees out, or a group of people for a bike ride, and shortly after that, you get paid for having successfully done this work. 
I like this, it feels normal. 

The Onochord Bicycle Bell ride, however, was a social cycle ride that I organised as separate to any paid Skyride Leader bike rides. That was because the rides organised in Lincoln on Sundays always start at 10.00a.m. and I am not likely to be up and about on a Sunday morning at 10.00a.m. 
I normally prefer to be out and about on a Sunday afternoon around 2.00p.m, so I organised the Onochord Bicycle Bell ride for others that are of a similar disposition (and like a Sunday morning lie-in!) 

Participants for the first Lincoln Onochord Bicycle Bell ride

I was pleasantly surprised to find there were 4 people booked on to it, so along with some additional children, there was a considerable group of participants.
The Onochord is normally performed by Yoko Ono with torches, and as such I initially tried it with bike lights. However, most bike lights have several settings, none of which work when performing the Onochord, so I adapted it for bicycle bells.
It was really nice that participants rang the Onochord along the route, and that if I rang the Onochord from the head of the ride, it passed down each cyclist toward the back.

A bicycle made for two!
I'm hoping to organise a huge one day Bicycle Bell Onochord event with support from some of the organisations I work with. Some ACE funding would come in handy so that I can be paid to deliver this, as British Cycling might not continue with Skyrides next year.

The next Onochord Bicycle Bell ride is planned for Sunday 31st August.

Another GoSkyride event was tweeted for Changing Tracks, with commissioned art along a disused railway line in the Nene Valley. This is much like the kind of thing I'd like to organise or be commissioned to do along the Viking Way or the Dukeries trail from Lincoln.

There is already some existing art work of varying calibre along the Water Railway route. These were commissioned by Sustrans between 2006 - 2007.
My interest is more related to the parts of the route that follow The Viking Way, and my connection to Norway and work with Apparatjik, as well as the previous Outer Trial Bank project and the Apparatjik bike (which is currently being used as a spare bike). 

The Dukeries Trail is possibly of more interest, as there is less public artwork along the route between Lincoln and Fledborough, and the route eventually goes to Nottinghamshire towards Sherwood Forest. In fact, it is a plan of mine to get the train to Worksop and Shirebrook and go cycling around Sherwood Forest. 

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Failed commission

A while ago, I put together a proposal for an archway in Lincoln city centre. It wasn't successful. The "curators" were not curators, but Lincoln BIG and city centre traders, so I didn't think I'd stand a chance anyway, and I didn't care that it wasn't successful.
Here is the winning design 
Compared to my proposal, creatively, it isn't all that good.
My proposal was for the arch to be constructed as a street light, so that it could be illuminated at night. Inspired by Simon Periton's lamp outside Firstsite in Colchester
it was designed to reflect the story of Little Sir Hugh, a Lincoln legend about a choirboy that was murdered and thrown down a well, written in song as Child ballad 155
The story is located in the area, and relates to the Jews House, which is at the end of The Strait.

Taking the Steeleye Span song and the legend as a starting point, the illuminated image of Little Sir Hugh with his ball, and falling down (the well or Steep Hill) is incorporated into an archway designed as a bedhead to reflect the lyrics about the winding sheet.
The archway shape also included Lego brick steps to reflect the hill, and to reflect the fact that The Strait is part of The Viking Way, running from Castle Hill down towards the High Street, with Danesgate nearby.

The subtle illumination at night would reflect the Cathedral when it is lit up, so that as you pass under the archway, there is the connection between downhill and uphill.
Someone asked "what next? A neon sign....?" Yes, this draws from Tracey Emin and Kendell Geer's work outside the Nobel Peace Centre in Oslo, 2010, but in keeping with the history of the location - a way of introducing contemporary art to a historical location. The choice of gentle white light, rather than anything more "Skegvegas" or  neo-consumerist.

Obviously a rather boring iron archway with simple religious symbols (muslim symbolism appears to have been omitted, despite the fact that a new mosque is being built in the city) is more preferable, and will obviously make people flock up the hill to spend money in the shops there - not - it won't do anything to encourage me to shop there, as I wasn't commissioned. 

In short, I've seen much more innovative works of art commissioned in other cities, and it would be much better to have actual artists / curators commission art work around the city, not those that have no knowledge or experience within the arts.

Any comments about my proposal in comparison to the commissioned work would be welcome.

Update (Nov 2014) An example of a successful piece of neon artwork in another city is this piece in Swansea to commemorate the life and work of Dylan Thomas.