History in 100 motorbikes | The West Australian | Ralph Lauren

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After closing down abruptly earlier this year due to the Covid-19 Pandemic the, Queensland Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA), sitting commandingly on the edge of the Brisbane River, reopened its doors fully last week to the roar of its brand new exhibition, The Motorcycle: Art, Design, Desire.

If you’re a motorcycle enthusiast, then heading to this world-exclusive exhibition, only in Brisbane, is a no-brainer.

For me, the idea of an exhibition full of motorbikes didn’t quite rock my world, however visitors who may think it’s not for them may be pleasantly surprised. I found myself leaving with a new appreciation for the motorcycle and an overwhelming urge to hit the road and let the world blow in the wind behind me.

The Motorcycle: Art, Design, Desire, Brisbane.
Camera IconThe Motorcycle: Art, Design, Desire, Brisbane. Credit: Brad Roberts/Supplied

For, with more than 100 innovative and influential motorcycles from the 1860s to present day, the exhibition also considers the motorcycle from the perspective of social history, popular culture, design and technology. It views bikes as enduring objects of design and art, looking at the motorcycle’s past, present and future.

The exhibition is an impressive showcase, especially when you consider the additional complication and logistics of bringing in a large chunk of the exhibition pieces from the US and Europe to Australia in the middle of a global pandemic. Thirty bikes were shipped from Texas alone.

Covering the entire ground floor entrance and gallery spaces, visitors are taken on a journey through 150 years of design and engineering history of the motorbike. With motorcycles sourced from around the world, the exhibition highlights a diverse range of mechanical mastery, from a 1871 Perreaux, the first steam-powered velocipede and oldest known motorcycle in the world, to the earliest Australian-designed and built machines, including a Spencer produced in Brisbane in 1906.

The Motorcycle: Art, Design, Desire, Brisbane.
Camera IconThe Motorcycle: Art, Design, Desire, Brisbane. Credit: Brad Roberts/Supplied

Iconic symbols of speed are also on show, including the 1930s Triumph Speed Twin, the 1970s Ducati 750 Super Sport and the 1990s Britten V1000 to the ultra-modern and the futuristic. Particularly eye-catching is the Fuller Moto 2029, with its sleek 1920’s Art Deco style it pays homage in anticipation of the 100-year anniversary of the classic 1929 Majestic. Sleek and impressive.

Visitors follow the evolution of the motorcycle mounted on the gallery walls, raised on podiums, and even hanging from the ceiling, precision lit to draw the eye as if these were fine couture gowns or old masters.

The QAGOMA team, led by director Chris Saines, has pulled together the best of the best, and it will undoubtedly impress the freedom-seeking motorcyclist or biker, while at the same time appealing to the curious mind of those interested in the intersection of artful design and functional engineering. History buffs will also easily find plenty to while away a couple of hours.

Build-a-bike garage. The Motorcycle: Art, Design, Desire, Brisbane.
Camera IconBuild-a-bike garage. The Motorcycle: Art, Design, Desire, Brisbane. Credit: Brad Roberts/Supplied
  • For those who love a bit of touch and feel in their art gallery show, you can take a virtual seat on a 1950s Vespa, 1960s Dirt Bike or an Electric ‘Future’ Bike and go riding in real-time through your choice of themed landscape. Fun!
  • Visitors feeling creatively inspired head on into the “Build-a-bike garage” and take a seat to build and customise their own bike on an interactive touch screen. Capture and share the final creation across all your social platforms.

Whether you intend to wander through solo dreaming of freedom and speed with the open road laid out in front of you, or looking for an entertaining and informative day out with friends or family, you will find a little something for everyone.

fact file

The Motorcycle: Design, Art, Desire is open until April 26, 2021 at Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane. Adults $20, children 5-12 years $10 (under 5 free). qagoma.qld.gov.au

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