ReCycle Rochdale – second stage.

The ReCycle Rochdale Project has been expanded to two new groups based at Smallbridge Library and The Moss Street Youth Centre, Newbold.

The Smallbridge group visited The Rochdale Pioneers Museum on a rainy evening and undertook a grand tour led by Jonny followed by a quick discussion about cooperatives and ideas for the artwork.

Their ideas included a globe made from bike wheels to show how the concept of Cooperation had spread from Rochdale across the world, a bike cog model of one of Rochdale’s historical mills and a few self portraits in cogs of group members…


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!



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!


Artwork concept CO-OP from bike parts.

Lets get making!

Our second evening at Sparth Youth Club it was time to get our hands dirty and get making!

We started off by looking at our inspiration from the previous week and deciding what would be a good form for the our artwork bearing in mind that it would grace to front on the Rochdale Pioneers Museum for all of Summer it had to:

  • Look good
  • Be striking
  • Attract interest
  • Say something about the Pioneers
  • Be made collaboratively and in co-operation between groups

We looked at our list of words from week one and decided that the best approach would be to make a readable sign artwork from bike parts, the obvious word to start from was CO-OP!

We then started on the fun job of choosing parts from our pile of old bikes, deciding what parts we could use to make what letters and taking them apart to test how it looked:

  • C will be a large bike wheel cut into a semi-circle
  • O & O will be bike wheels on a bike frame
  • P will be the rear triangle and seat post of an old bike

By the end of the evening we had a basic layout for the artwork and some great ideas of what we could add detail, design and movement wise to create an amazing work of art.




ReCyCle Rochdale gets going.

The ReCyCle Rochdale ‘Grand Depart’ took place on the evening of 12 March 2014 at Sparth Community Centre with the lead group for the project, Sparth Youth Club members, sometimes known as The Spartans.

We met the group and organiser Kenny and spent the evening discussing the project, what we knew about The Tour de France and cycling in general along with an in-depth discussion about the Rochdale Pioneers and the history and ethos of co-operation. The group proved extremely knowledgeable about the Rochdale Pioneers and had a fascinating discussion about co-operation, equality and working together from which our artwork concept will be developed.

After a democratic exercise to choose ten words to form the foundation of our artwork approach we finished the evening with half an hour of hands-on activity  making quick prototype kinetic sculpture from a few bike bits and explored what may be possible for our artwork.