Art – the commentary of life – MBC ride, 28 February 2016

Much can be, and has been, said about art. Art is controversial, beautiful, ugly, inspiring, disturbing. Some can easily be hung in a gallery, some is constructed out doors, some can only be experienced with your other senses. Arguably, some you pedal around every day…

Our Brommies are lovely enough to be art

Our Brommies are lovely enough to be art

Gathering at the NGV

Gathering at the NGV

The artwork that drew us to the National Gallery of Victoria (“NGV”) on St Kilda Road for our February club ride was Ai Weiwei’s “Forever Bicycles” sculpture currently positioned in the main atrium. The sculpture is here as part of a joint exhibition by Ai Weiwei and Andy Warhol; two radical and controversial artists known for their social commentary and activism.

NGV’s atrium, angular and striking in its design, is relived of being a dark and not-at-all welcoming space by the clear roof, letting shafts of natural light fill the four-storey void in the middle of the ground floor, right near the entrance. The “Forever Bicycles” sculpture easily took up about three-quarters of the atrium. Perfectly aligned frames and wheel rims making you feel like you were being hypnotised if you stood directly in front if it. Or gave you flashbacks of the old Dr Who opening titles.

Despite earlier assurances (from about a month ago) that we could take a photo of our bikes with the sculpture, the security guards on the day were not quite so relaxed. Maybe it was the difference between the weekday and weekend shift. Fortunately we had a backup Brompton – with thanks to Nick (from Brompton Australia).

Mini Brompton on loan from Nick of Brompton Australia - photo by @baudman

Mini Brompton on loan from Nick of Brompton Australia – photo by @baudman

Bike sculpture photos done, we bought tickets and entered the main exhibition.

The balloons were fun. Fortunately Bethy was there to tell Stephen and I that the red and gold shapes were actually supposed to represent sparrows and llamas – I might have guessed the red ones were birds, but I’d never have guessed the gold llamas!

Llamas and Sparrows. Easy to see once you've been told!

Llamas and Sparrows. Easy to see once you’ve been told!

As this is a Melbourne Brompton Club blog (and I’m not an art critic) I’ll spare you my thoughts on the rest of the exhibition (but I’ve included a few photos). However, if you are in Melbourne and wish to have a look for yourself, it runs until 24 April 2016 so you’d better be quick.

Since we hadn’t actually had a ride yet, after we were done we decided to head off to check out some street art. Just like artwork displayed in a gallery, street art may only be available for public viewing for a short period of time – until someone comes along and paints over your work. So an exploration down one of Melbourne’s more popular laneways will generally uncover something new – maybe even see a work in progress!

Hosier Lane was our first stop. We weren’t the only ones there. No less than three walking tours meandered down as we rode and walked our way up the bluestone cobbled lane. Lucky it’s not too narrow.

ACDC Lane is not far and another good one to visit, but we gave that a miss and cycled up Swanston to Literature Lane, off Little La Trobe Street. At first I thought there wasn’t that much there, but closer inspection revealed some really good stencil work!

Our next port of call was a small, un-named (as far as I can tell) laneway between 106 & 108 Franklin Street, near the Queen Victoria Market. This unofficial laneway-come-driveway is the back of someone’s studio, so a few artists practice their work in the laneway. There are a myriad of images (large and small) and tiny settings to discover.

The final laneway for this ride was yes, another unnamed laneway (as far as Google is concerned). Near the corner of Queen Street and Franklin Street as you enter the Queen Victoria Market area, the laneway is between the shops on your right.

The most striking new feature in the laneway in QVM

The most striking new feature in the laneway in QVM

Of course, these few places are hardly a comprehensive list of Melbourne’s street art hotspots. Not by a long shot! They were just convenient on our way home.

My thanks once again to Cory for allowing me to use many of his photos in this post.

Next Month’s Ride

Due to Easter falling on the last weekend of March we might postpone the official March club ride until Sunday, 3 April. Suggestions for destinations welcome, as always. Melbourne hopefully will have welcomed autumn properly by then, and it’ll also be our last ride before daylight saving ends.

Happy and safe Bromptoneering, everyone. 🙂

Cory's White Black Edition - photo by @baudman

Cory’s White Black Edition – photo by @baudman

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About Dayna

I'm interested in nature, hiking and photography - but these have been somewhat overwhelmed by a new passion... my Brompton folding bikes! You can follow me on Twitter: @daynaa2000 or @Brompton_MEL Or find me hanging out most Saturdays at Velo Electric & Folding (http://velocycles.com.au/folding-bikes/) or on a Melbourne Brompton Club ride! (https://melbournebromptonclub.wordpress.com)
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5 Responses to Art – the commentary of life – MBC ride, 28 February 2016

  1. Jane says:

    The art galleries, both traditional and “street,” are another great appeal of Melbourne. I’d like to see an area of Brisbane be open to street artists. There are some really talented and passionate people out there. I really enjoyed the artsy tour, Dayna. Cute mini brom and great gallery of pics. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dayna says:

      Thank you, Jane.
      We were grateful for the mini Brompton, and it’s always interesting to check out the street art. It can be no less controversial than art shown in galleries – though perhaps it’s the amount of news coverage and the audience that is the main difference. And perhaps because it’s much more spread out – but finding it can be half the fun. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Gail Rehbein says:

    Great post Dayna! I’ve had this exhibition on my list since seeing the interview with Ai Wei Wei on the ABC around the time it opened. The ‘Forever Bicycles’ sculpture would be magnificent to see. Weeks, months have passed and I’m not sure I’ll get there so thanks for a wonderful selection of photos and for sharing your experience of being amongst it. The Bromptons definitely go well with the street art – cool x 2 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dayna says:

      Thank you, Gail!
      I admit I hadn’t heard of Ai Weiwei prior to this exhibition, and only vaguely knew of Andy Warhol’s work. Getting our actual Bromptons in a few proper shots would have been fantastic, but it was just not to be in this occasion.
      The disparity of artists’ treatment between the two sections our of ‘ride’ this month gives lots to ponder over: social and political commentary is still very repressed in China, whereas in Melbourne (and Australia) we have many more avenues to freely express ourselves. Something we should never take for granted. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

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