Cooperation on Wheels part 2 – a VIP visitor

The creation of Cogs Bikes by visitors to the Cooperation On Wheels exhibition was paused briefly by the arrival of a VIP visitor, the Mayor Of Rochdale – Councillor Peter Rush.

The Mayor toured the exhibition then joined the Sparth Youth Club and Sparth Playscheme art bike artists to learn more about the ReCyCle Rochdale Sculpture, their hard work in creating it and the inspiration behind it. The group had a good chat to the Mayor and shared some of their experiences in creating the sculpture and what they had learnt. The Mayor told us a story about his son buying a bike from a local bike shop and spending too much on having it sprayed that he couldn’t afford pedals…

There was then a quick photo opportunity for the group with the Mayor, Museum Manager Jenny Mabot and Mervyn Wilson, chief executive of the Cooperative College. Also featured in the pictures are some of the star attractions of the exhibition; a beautiful Orbea bicycle (made by a bicycle cooperative in Spain) and Bradley Wiggins‘ Credit Agricole skinsuit he wore as World Individual Pursuit Champion in 2004.

All in all an amazing and rewarding day to remember!



Cooperation On Wheels part 1 – Cog Bikes and cake…

Saturday morning arrived wet and blustery but this wasn’t going to stop the ReCyCle Rochdale Artists from putting on a great show for the opening of the Cooperation On Wheels exhibition.

We set up our Cooperative Kinetic Art Bike Sculpture and it looked amazing (even in the rain) and the newly sprayed parts of the artwork stood out brilliantly in front of the Rochdale Pioneers Museum.

We also set up a gazebo to work under to make sure everyone stayed dry and there were no excuses for not getting involved! Luckily the rain eased off and young artists from Sparth Youth Club and Sparth Playscheme got prepared to help visitors with our art activity for the day…

We’d decided it would be great if visitors to the exhibition could make a ‘Cog Bike’ to add to the sculpture – this would allow us to frame our Kinetic Art Bike Sculpture with a peleton of cooperatively made mini art bikes!

Visitors started arriving and looked around the exhibitions and then many of them joined us to created their own amazing ‘Cog Bike’ inspired by the fantastic bicycles old and new on display inside.

The creative work continued all day – only stopping briefly for a VIP visit…

Colouring the cogs (in the rain)

Tonight at Sparth Youth Club we wanted to spray paint all the parts of our sculpture ready for it’s first public showing on Saturday but unfortunately the torrential rain threatened our plans.

Luckily the art bike team refused to be deterred from getting the work ready and persevered by splitting into two team and gettting busy (and a bit wet)  spray painting under the protection of a leaky gazebo. Not ideal conditions but the end results were brilliant; the C,O,O and Hills of Rochdale parts of the sculpture are painted and ready to go.

Other work that took place in the dry inside the community centre including making more decorative pieces for the sculpture (including a famous Rochdale landmark!) and completing the letter P.

We also planned our art activity / creative challenge for visitors to the Cooperation On Wheels Exhibition on Saturday – but you’ll have to join us on the day to find out what it is…


The sculpture will be revealed…

Exciting news for ReCyCle Rochdale as the artwork will be revealed at the Cooperation On Wheels exhibition launch at Rochdale Pioneers Museum on Saturday May 11th.

The exhibition explores how bikes were used by co-operative societies and how and why the Co-operative Wholesale Society manufactured bikes.

The sculpture is still a work-in-progress and will be exhibited for one day only! But it will return in it’s final form soon…

There will also be opportunity for visitors to the Museum on the day to create their own bike art to become part of the sculpture!

Artist Richard Dawson and some of the participants for Sparth Youth Group will be on hand all day to talk about the artwork and help you create your own artwork from bike parts making the final piece a truly Cooperatively Created Sculpture.


The artwork gets even bigger

Tonight we decided to add a frame to the sculpture to make it more eyecatching and even larger. The frame will be made from an old trampoline and we tested two sizes by laying out all the sculpture elements on the floor and of course chose the largest!

Inspiration struck and it was decide that the circular frame would be painted red to look like a STOP sign but with the word CO-OP instead of STOP. A new young artist joined us for the session and commented that the COOP letters were hard to read withing the mechanisms and support bike so a job for next week will be to paint the artwork to make everything  stand out.

These design questions solved we got stuck in making the final parts of Imaginary Man, adding decoration to the C, fixing the big P to the up and down mechanism.

The Sparth Youth Club team worked flat out drilling and bolting the frame parts to make them solid whilst other another team were kept busy making cog flowers and bike chain houses to decorate the ‘Hills of Rochdale’ part of the artwork…





Imaginary Man takes shape

Tonight the Sparth Playscheme joined the Sparth Youth Club for a co-operative creative session at the Sparth Community Centre.

A keen team from those who had joined us at Rochdale Pioneers Museum asked if they could do more creative work so joined regulars from the Sparth Youth Club. The focus of work was assembling all the parts of the ‘imaginary man’ to ride the O bike and adding a bike seat face with cog eyes and brake pad moustache (not a handlebar moustache as this was used for the shoulders!).

Other work included further decoration of the letter O, reinforcing the up and down mechanism alongside making a base for the artwork from pieces of old trampoline and a lot of drilling and bolting together to ensure it was rigid.


Sparth Playscheme at Rochdale Pioneers Museum

Another amazing sunny spring day and Sparth Play-schemers visited Rochdale Pioneers Museum to get hands-on with the Art Bikes Sculpture.

A number of the play-scheme team were already involved with the project and continued their work on mechanisms to make the sculpture both kinetic and interactive.

Other members of the play-scheme get stuck in with making the bigger O by cutting the rear wheel, seat stays, seat post and chain stays from a larger scrap mountain bike.

Two teams got started on the ‘imaginary man’ who would ride our O bike; the first team made a maquette from cardboard tube to work out the dimensions of the figure and ensure he would fit on the bike. The second team replicated the leg parts from metal tube and made knee, ankle and hip joints by cable-tying two sections of bike chain together and joining them to the metal tube.

The second O for CO-OP was decorated by another team and the challenging ‘up & down’ mechanism was constructed using suspensioned front forks from which the springs were removed to allow them to slide easily up & down. These pieces will be driven from the pedals of another old bike and this was also created by a Play-scheme team.

By the end of a very busy and enjoyable day we had created and could show off the legs of the imaginary man pedaling the O bike, the drive mechanism for the rotating part of the sculpture, the ‘up & down’ mechanism, an in-scale letter P and more decorative parts – A Great Days Work!


Cycle Creations at Rochdale Pioneers Museum

On an amazing sunny Friday Cycle Creations took place at Rochdale Pioneers Museum and some new Art Bike Artists from across Rochdale joined us for a few hours of fun and rewarding making.

We had set up the prototype artwork in it’s position in front of the museum and in the true spirit of Co-operation the new artists worked on adding enhancing elements to parts of the sculpture created by the group from Sparth Youth Club. They then created individual decorative artworks based around themes from the Rochdale Pioneers Museum including bees, trees and flowers.






Careful drilling

Sparth Art Bike Artists create mechanisms

Following the visit to Rochdale Pioneers Museum The Sparth Art Bike Artists had definite ideas of how to develop the creation of their artwork so we decided to focus on making the moving elements of the artwork to create a truly kinetic sculpture.

To make the rear wheel of the ‘O bike’ rotate would be easy enough – it’s what bike wheels are meant to do! But we had decided the O’s needed to be bigger so started work on adding a larger wheel rim from another scrap bike. This involved the painstaking removal of about 1000’s spokes and unfortunately will have to be repeated with another wheel to make the O’s match in size. Fitting the larger wheel rim into our quite small frame also required the removal of the cross braces from the chain and seat stays using a hacksaw and file.

We also decided to create a mechanism to rotate one of the letters horizontally and took an old ‘windmill drill’ as a start point. We added a crank chain-set cog by carefully aligning it to the cog on the drill and drilling and bolting it in place – this will allow the drill to be turned by a bike chain – NICE!

Next we want to create, from bike parts, a mechanism to move part of our sculpture up and down – how will we manage this?…



A Museum Visit

Tonight we visited Rochdale Pioneers Museum to learn more about the history of the Rochdale Pioneers, explore the museum and gain inspiration for our artwork. We also wanted to see where our artwork will be installed and check it would suit the space.

Jenny, who manages the Rochdale Pioneers Museum, lead us on a fascinating tour and shared some inspiring details of the Pioneers history and the characters involved in the birth of Co-operation.

Unfortunately it was raining during our visit so we very quickly set up our prototype artwork where we thought it would look best then stood back and observed how it looked and what we should do to make it work.

We decided that the artwork would need to be reversed so it could be read from the road, that the P would need to be bigger and to make that artwork really attractive it would be great to included some moving parts and interactive elements for visitors to use…

The brilliant suggestion of an ‘imaginary person’ riding the ‘O bike’ also added a real creative challenge for the team!

We then went back into the museum to discuss what we had discovered on the visit and the idea of turning this new knowledge into a rap to share with other participants and visitors was born. Half an hour later two amazing raps were performed acapella in the museum meeting room – a first for Rochdale Pioneers?

We hope these will develop into fully fledged performances over the next few weeks!