Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Vélo: Book Launch And Exhibition

Here's one for cyclists, cycle fans, book and art lovers. Starting with a second edition book launch at the now famous and uber cool London cycling cafe Look Mum, No Hands! this coming Saturday which will include live music from Kraftwerk promoting a limited run of 100 casebound copies of photo artbook 'Vélo - Adventures of the Peloton', an exhibition of 10 large prints from the the book will be on display at the cafe until October 26th. Here I'm taking a look at the book, the art and the artist with all the details of how to get your hands on a copy and get yourselves down to the launch and exhibition in the coming weeks...

The man behind the book is Sheffield based Andrew G Smith and his style is somewhat unique but also fits in with the 'way of the cyclist' quite well. Firsty there is no lens play, gadgetry, filters of even photoshop style airbrushing at work - instead he simply, but creatively, photographs the action of the Tour de France on his television set which creates 'noise' in the form of distortion and blurring. Smith says of this: 'I think that approach has something that satisfied the inclusive, everyman appeal of cycling'. And he is right, this is art, but it is art that anybody can play at, though not to the applied standards of Andrew Smith I dare add!

Velo, Andrew G Smith
The book is based on photographs of the Tour de France, and explores the existential and metaphysical aspects of cycling. Accompanying the images are quotations from the likes of Tim Krabbé, Paul Kimmage, Samuel Beckett, Seamus Heaney, Kraftwerk and Harrison Birtwhistle which set the images off nicely and add to the enigmatic style of the photography. I have had the pleasure of studying the book in detail and it's fragmented nature coupled with consistently eye-catching visuals draws the reader into its whole 120'odd pages and though it follows no real narrative, that itself lends to the mythical nature of the subject Smith seeks to portray.

These pictures are not sharp, magazine edits that we see in cycling weekly adjoined to text transcribing the days events - this is image at it's least edited yet each one tells a story and that's the whole point, these images are supposed to convey effort, emotion, endurance and that's where they beat polished magazine edits well into submission. This book is beyond pictures on paper, this really is art.

10 of those prints will be blown up for the exhibition at Look mum, no hands!, and though I haven't seen them in this form it will certainly be a sight to behold and will, without doubt, add to the mythical aura around the small book versions. The exhibition will run from Saturday right through to the 26th, but if you simply can't get down to London to take it all in then the book can be purchased direct from the author HERE. It is £24.00 but it's worth the money, more so considering this is a 'second edition' launch of only 100 casebound copies - the 1st edition was a limited run of 60 launched in conjunction with an exhibition at Bank Street Arts in Sheffield in June this year, though this second edition is also a revised edition and features an introductory essay from Bill Strickland (Editor of 'Bicycling').

Dutch author and journalist Tim Krabbe describes the book as: 'Cycling was mythical, but it survived its visibility. In 'Vélo', it becomes a visible myth'. Which should be reason enough for anybody to want to take a look and divulge the content. Andrew G. Smith can be found on his website: ByMyI.com. The book launch takes place at 7pm onwards at Look mum, no hands! on Saturday 13th October and the artwork exhibition will run from then until 26th October - If you are in London it will certainly be worth a visit, and if you are not, then well, get there!

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