From 200 Bikes, One Amazing Sculpture: Sydney Art Celebrates the Green Life


Image Courtesy of the City of Sydney

It's a safe bet that few, if any, of Sydney's bicycle commuters go with penny farthings as their two-wheeler of choice. The outdated ride (popular in the 1870s) is most used these days for its retro value and the occasional race. But when artist Alasdair Nicol set out to make a sculpture for Sydney's 2010 Art & About Festival, an annual celebration that brings art, performance and music to the city's public places, the old big-wheel was his vehicle of choice. The result? The Bike Bike, a 12 meter high sculpture made out of 200 recycled bicycles, in the shape of a giant penny farthing.This year's Art & About festival (the ninth of its kind) focuses on Sydney itself, a city that's way ahead of the game in terms of going green: they're even working on their fireworks. The Bike Bike is designed to champion the growing enthusiasm in Sydney for commuting via bicycle, Lord Mayor Clover Moore MP says:

The creation of a giant Penny Farthing is testimony to Sydneysiders' love for the humble bicycle. Nowadays more and more people are riding a bike to get from A to B, resulting in shorter trips, staying healthy, saving the environment and easing
congestion on our roads.

Mr. Nicol explained some of the inspiration for his work:

The project draws attention to the current trends towards bicycle commuting and celebrates the fact that Australia now sells more bicycles than cars each year.

The bicycles that make up the giant penny farthing were gathered from local bike co-ops, including The Bower, formerly managed by TreeHugger Warren McLaren. Other Art & About projects include a Live Green House (check out the 2009 installation), a gallery featuring portraits of 100 Sydney residents, and the flamboyant dressing up of the city's usually stern statues.


A statue of King Edward VII at Macquarie & Bridge Street, dressed up for the month. Image Credit: Newtown grafitti via Flickr

The Bike Bike went on display in Sydney's Martin Place on September 23 and is lit at night (using renewable energy, of course). The best part about it? The 200 bicycles will still be usable when the sculpture is dismantled at the end of October.

More on Sydney's efforts to go green:
Where Are Australia's Most Sustainable Cities?
People of Sydney: Tell Us About Your City
Smart Light Sydney: Seeing the Light Whilst Reducing the Energy

Tags: Arts | Bikes | Sydney | Urban Life