CultureCycle grew out of a fascination with physical activity, coupled with much too much skill in crochet and my professional life as a researcher. The idea is that one of the ways we can become the 'active cultural participant' that we write about, is to consider how we connect with and are inspired by cultural collections. To do this I've constructed a cycling tour that takes people through city streets, visiting organisations which are somehow sustainable or encourage a sustainable life style. From there it's onto cultural organisations to view specific exhibitions which are either connected to sustainability or promote handmade skills (an important aspect of sustainability).In Sydney it will be the Powerhouse Museum's new Lace exhibition which opens later this year. Then I run a crochet workshop where participants are introduced to crochet as a handmade skill which can be utilised in innovative ways and be influenced by cultural collections.
The tour may appeal and it may not but after years of writing about active cultural participation online, I'm keen to test this model.
I recently came across David Gauntlett's new book Making is Connecting where he makes an explicit link between digital participatory cultures and positive transformations in our lives and societies. So, perhaps I'm not too far off the mark!!
Anyway, the first tour has been accepted into Sydney Design so I'm busily working our cycling routes and safe roadways in the inner city area! More to come.
In the meantime, I was inspired by a conversation I had recently with my partner. We were wondering whether we weren't just a bit too old to be decked out in lycra and that perhaps there was another way of approaching cycling style. It didn't take long for me to discover that the CycleChic movement after that - though I still can't work out whether its a movement and a market or just a movement. Regardless, it gave me a new project to explore. I've been selling handmade crochetwear online for the past year, having been inspired by the growing resurgence in handmade design. I've found it fascinating to discover the connections between social media and handmade design but have not realised the potential of this in a saturated market. So, I decided to refocus and start designing and making handmade cycling crochetwear. To do this I approached CycleStyle for some advice. During our conversation, the idea of stylish reflective clothing came up. So, off to the internet to find reflective yarn. Two suppliers from China later I am almost ready to start marketing this range. It consists mainly of arm & leg warmers, scarves, snoods, gloves and cycling boleros (not dissimilar to the one in the photo). During the day these look like any other clothing but once a car headlight hits them, they light up offering the cyclist greater visibility. Over the next few weeks I'll be adding them to my Etsy shop and approaching distributors. It should be an interesting journey!
I feel as though I have a certain amount of cycling skill. When I did my Fellowship in the US a few years ago I bought a folding bike and spent four months discovering Manhattan. I've done a few triathlons and recently did the 60km Otway ride here in Victoria (in record time for me). I used this ride to test the cycling bolero given that it was a rather cold start early in the morning! It worked and I've reconfigured the pattern so that the wool/silk combination doesn't grow to be too long after a few hours of cycling (see image).
So, it's the beginning of the type of convergence between professional, creative and personal lives that I seem to have been balancing for too long now. I'm writing a Fellowship at the moment which takes up the design and cultural organisation mantel (who knows, cycling may make it into there) and I'm preparing the program for Sydney Design. In the meantime, I'm becoming familiar with the social network which exists around cycling (who knew?) and enjoying the ride!
I've cycled to work for years but even then, I still felt as though I needed some structure so I signed up for the Cycle Skills Clinic in Melbourne. I had a great time and have committed to doing the next two levels. It's given me new confidence in my daily cycle and reminded me of the road rules I may have been breaking!!