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The Motorcycle: Design ~ Art ~ Desire

Magnetoman

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Obviously, I don't have to tell anyone here that if you've seen one Vincent, you've seen them all... Despite that, if for some reason you'd still like to see another one, the Black Lightning that Jack Ehret used to set the Australian land speed record in 1953 isn't a bad choice. Or, perhaps you'd like to see an amazing Britten, only ten of which were made, that appeared out of nowhere (i.e. New Zealand) in the early '90s to take the world by storm. Speaking of New Zealand, how about one of the two (yes, two) original 'world's fastest Indians' that set a speed record at Bonneville in the 1960s that still stands (OK, the class it ran in no longer exists so its record can't be beaten, but that's a mere technicality...)? While on the subject of speed, Australia often is credited with starting the sport of speedway racing, so how about a Douglas DT/5 (DT, for dirt track) from that period, or a rare 8-valve Harley-Davidson with banking sidecar that was raced to great success on the dirt tracks of Australia?

All of these, and much, much more, from world's very first, steam-powered, motorcycle from 1871 through to the latest innovative electric-powered motorcycles from 2020, will be in Brisbane for the five months after the exhibition opens to the public in less than a week. Well, opens to the 0.3% of the world's public who live in Australia (25M/7.8B).

Unfortunately, life isn't fair. I easily could have completely restored a motorcycle from parts in the time I spent on this exhibition and I'm forbidden to see it. Poor, poor pitiful me...
 

Magnetoman

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VOC Member
Great pleasure and satisfaction can be obtained from giving pleasure, or education, to others.
I sneaked some physics into the Guggenheim exhibition (e.g. in the form of content for the wall captions, such as "Special Theory of Relativity" for the one below). At one point I asked my Dean if he thought the average visitor got roughly the same amount of physics from a tour of the exhibition as they would have learned in just a single one-hour lecture in an average physics class. He readily agreed. However, well before I finished the next step, explaining that the total attendance of over 2M meant that was the equivalent of me having taught a 500-person lecture class every semester for the rest of my career he interjected that, no, he wouldn't excuse me from teaching.

170ExhibitOrganiz.jpg

Despite my ploy not having worked, it illustrates the power of "alternative education" experiences, including the Brisbane exhibition, that can impart scientific knowledge to large numbers of people without them being consciously aware that they're being educated.
 

greg brillus

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Charlie, You'll be glad to know that one of the local radio stations here on the Gold Coast, which is south of Brisbane about 50 miles.......Has been actively promoting your show, and giving away free admission tickets........the local population of bike owners from here to the north side of Brisbane is huge given the great whether we have in this part of the world, and plenty of good roads to support the vast array of bikes old and new.........I'm looking forward to this Friday night.........Cheers.......Greg.
 

Magnetoman

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Greg, actually, firmly in our mind throughout the entire process of putting this exhibition together wasn't motorcyclists, because we knew they would come. Rather, it was the soccer moms (football moms?), young families looking for something to do on weekends, boys and girls on school or club field trips, and tourists in town on holiday who felt compelled to drag their kids to someplace cultural. If those people come away from the exhibition with an appreciation for objects they may never even have given a second thought to before, we will have been successful.

Motorcyclists should love it because they'll get to see some amazing machines they've only read about, displayed in a way only a world-class art gallery knows how to display them. Non-motorcyclists will – we sincerely hope – love it because they'll see motorcycles in historical context as the fascinating design objects they are, as well as learn about the interesting designers who created them.

Phrased differently, we will have been successful if both types of audiences come away from what they see saying "I had no idea!," albeit for different reasons.
 

peter le gros

Website User
VOC Member
Charlie on our local tv news SE Queensland there is a segment on "The Motorcycle Design Art Desire"
Great viewing they presented the story as Retro Motorcycles. We have a population of 3.6 million here in SEQ.
Well done to Charles Falco, Ultan Guilfoyle and team.
 

Magnetoman

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I'm guessing this is a Michaux-Perreaux
After much research, we've given full credit for that machine to Louis-Guillaume Perreaux. Decades ago someone, incorrectly we believe, called it the Michaux-Perreaux based on the resemblance of the frame to the Michaux bicycle. Ever since then other writers have just copied that attribution. However, the frame has the same almost-vertical steering geometry already in use for five decades on a number of ‘draisienne’ hobby-horses, to which Perreaux substituted an S-shaped backbone of hollow tubing to create a lighter and stronger frame that gives additional clearance for the engine. Another of Perreaux’s innovations is that he used threaded steel to make the tension of the spokes adjustable.

Remarkably, it survived the Franco-Prussian War, WWI and WWII to still be with us today. This is the only time it has been nearly this far from Paris, and I'll go out on a limb and predict this also will be the only time anyone in Australia ever will have the opportunity to see it (even when it's in Paris it lives most of the time in the museum's storage where it can't be seen).
 

TouringComet

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VOC Forum Administrator
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Speaking of New Zealand, how about one of the two (yes, two) original 'world's fastest Indians' that set a speed record at Bonneville in the 1960s that still stands (OK, the class it ran in no longer exists so its record can't be beaten, but that's a mere technicality...)?
Here is a snippet of the current SCTA records, for the 1,000cc classes. Burt's record is in an active class, S-F (streamliner running on fuel other than petrol). Out of respect, though, long timers in the LSR community consider this class unofficially retired. In recent years, they strongly discourage anyone from competing in this class. The person that holds the S-G 1000cc record, Riches Airtech MDR, back before that gentlemen's agreement, tried to break the 1000-S-F record, and had a load of mechanical issues, so he gave up.
 

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Magnetoman

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VOC Member
they strongly discourage anyone from competing in this class.
Thanks very much for that explanation. The story I had been given seemed quite plausible since it explained why a record was still standing after over 50 years, but I should have checked further. Thanks again.
 

Magnetoman

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As I wrote in the first post in this thread, if these were normal times QAGOMA would get 30% of its visitors from interstate and internationally. So, since Queensland's borders are now set to open on December 1, and barring another outbreak, attendance at 'The Motorcycle' has the potential not to suffer much at all from what it would have been in a normal year. As the first major exhibition created specifically with the post-covid world in mind, there's even reason to believe this might be the right exhibition at the right time to exceed expectations.

Of course, the situations we face are different, but in the U.S. an estimated one-third of all museums remain closed because of covid. The financial loss of nearly a year's income thus far means some of them are being forced to sell off parts of their collections to survive and, even with that, not all of them are expected to ever reopen.

For most major museums, a successful "summer blockbuster" exhibition provides the operating income for the remaining three-quarters of the year. Given how dire the Australian situation looked in March-April and again in July-August, museum directors who thought they were preparing for the worst by curtailing activities are now unprepared for their big summer season.

Creating a blockbuster art or design exhibition requires a few years, not a few months, to scour the world and secure the necessary international loans, so it's not something that could be done starting when the Australian situation began to look hopeful at the end of August. For example, the exhibition this time last year at the National Gallery of Australia was of two major European artists, entitled 'Matisse & Picasso', that "brings together masterpieces from collections across the world and includes paintings that will be on display in Australia for the first time." In contrast, this year it's 'Australian Women Artists 1900 to Now' with works "Drawn from the National Gallery’s collection and loans from across Australia." Clearly, this year's exhibition was not years in the making, nor does it have the potential to draw the same number of visitors as last year's.

For what it's worth, despite all the uncertainty, stress and hard work since the world changed in March, Ultan Guilfoyle and I are both very pleased that QAGOMA's Director, Chris Saines, never wavered in his vision to have this exhibition open as planned on 28 November. Given how it all worked out, he is quite pleased as well. Opening is now just a few days away.

QAGOMA_instagram.jpg
 
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Magnetoman

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As I write this it is 10am Thursday morning in Brisbane (5pm Wednesday afternoon in Arizona), so as the following image shows the Media Preview, followed later by the VIP tour of the completed exhibition, is just 24 hours away.

PressInvitation.jpg

Unfortunately, if anyone in the press wants to talk with me tomorrow, their call will come at exactly the time I've finished stuffing myself with Thanksgiving turkey and wine, and fighting with all my strength not to fall asleep on the sofa. The timing couldn't be worse.
 
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greg brillus

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Well, the show looks like a hit.........Cath and I took the train up and got there early so we could get something to eat first.......always feels strange going into the city now, everything busy, loads of traffic, cars, buses everywhere........Loads of people all nicely dressed going about their thing, eating and drinking in local bars and restaurants........So we got there about 5:00 Pm for the opening.........good number of people there, not a huge crowd, but a good number for the opening........then my phone rang and it was Franc Trento........I told him I was literally only a few meters from his old bike (The Ehret Lightning)......He asked if i could give the seat a "Pat" for him........ Well not likely with all the security folk everywhere, looking closely at everyone's moves as they lent in for a closer look......... We quickly caught up with a few other Vincent folk not long after we got into the main display area.......Plenty of room with a great variety of machines on display, all up on differing height stages all in white........The machines mostly sat upright and tethered with thin stainless cables concealed carefully under a low part of the bikes passing through the base of the stage. This gave a much better viewing of the bikes, and there were not too many up against walls where you only get to see one side of the bike. Great variety of machines from very early models up to trendy modern electrics. The quality of the bikes was exceptional, including several original unrestored machines that were equally impressive........ I recognized many faces in the crowd, and it felt at times like being at a swap meet where you spend more time talking and catching up than looking at the displays, but that is just what happens. Many folk asked why I did not have any bikes on display at the show........ I explained that the Lightning was enough.......Some of them seemed disappointed that the Lightning looked so shabby...........I just laughed and explained that not all bikes should be all shiny and new........I must say I was very surprised at how many ladies were there, many of whom seemed to be on their own or in pairs, and all very nicely dressed.........I would say the split of male/female was about 60/40 percent........many as couples as you might expect. All in all I really enjoyed it, and i'm sure ill probably go back before its over.......There are so many interesting features about the bikes that are amazing.......On some of the early bikes the types of suspension they tried, and even the locations of how they did things........very clever indeed......I think the show will be very well received, and with the borders to the southern states opening up now the visitor numbers will increase very much.........so to Charlie and Ultan, very well done and thank you both so much for such a great exhibition.......Something not only very interesting but very positive for the world of Motorcycling. Cheers for now.......... Greg.
 

Magnetoman

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VOC Member
Well, the show looks like a hit.........Plenty of room ........The machines mostly sat upright and tethered with thin stainless cables concealed carefully under a low part of the bikes passing through the base of the stage. .......Some of them seemed disappointed that the Lightning looked so shabby...........I must say I was very surprised at how many ladies were there,
Greg, thanks very much for that review. I just got a photo sent to me showing a queue all the way to the river steps, so it's off to a good start.

The reason there is plenty of room is we had to lock in the overall layout in early September, when Australia was still in the midst of a big covid spike, forcing us to guess what kind of social distancing requirements might be in place when the exhibition opened nearly three months later.

We wanted the "objects" to be displayed as cleanly as possible so you would have seen only one bike on its center stand. The front tire of that one suddenly deflated the day before you visited so the only short-term solution possible was the center stand.

Some people certainly expect to see over-restored machines so are surprised at the as-found or as-used condition of some of them, like the Lightning. However, I think by the time they've made their way through the exhibition most have them have become indoctrinated into accepting the condition of the unique machines, just as they would expect to see a, say, ancient Greek vase in it's as-found condition.

I love your comment about how many ladies were present. As I wrote previously, hard-core bikers are going to come no matter what. It's the ladies and children whose opinions about motorcycles and motorcycle design that we want to shape.

p.s. the exhibition opened to the public at 10am today. This photograph was taken at 10:05 am:

Opening.jpg
 
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