Painting the town orange. And blue, and green: Q & A with artist Vanessa Nicholas of The Good Bike Project
By Meri Perra
More bikes are set to appear throughout the city (Image: Meri Perra)
It would be understatement to call the team behind The Good Bike Project —Toronto artists Caroline Macfarlane and Vanessa Nicholas — busy. The duo are probably best known for their paint jobs on abandoned bikes, and after somewhat ironically receiving Rob Ford’s support, the women hit Regent Park earlier this month and held a bike-painting day in the community. They also debuted a bike in time for Pride’s festivities. We spoke with Nicholas about what’s next for the team.
How did it go with having Pride and the Regent Park project on the same day?
Caroline and I prepared the Pride bike earlier in the week, just on our own time. And then we locked it in front of the gallery we work at, which is the OCAD University Student Gallery. We replaced the original orange bike with the Pride bike for the weekend. And then the Regent Park event was separate. We hosted the event on the Sunday, which coincided with Pride.
Regent Park seems like the perfect place for a project.
We’re only planning one more, but a much larger public event, which is going to happen on Sunday the 24th of July. I think we’re going to plan to have it in Cabbagetown at the youth centre. The idea there is to work with the youth centre, you know, with an organization that promotes community and community regeneration. I don’t think we’re targeting a neighbourhood so much with that event, it’s more that we’re hoping to shed light on what the youth centre does.
A lot of those kids are Regent Park kids, too.
Yeah, we could have quite a lot of overlap. Which would be nice because the kids that came out [to the Regent Park project] did a really good job and they were really enthusiastic. Obviously, the bikes will be going in a lot of different neighbourhoods in the city.
Are you releasing more bikes in Regent Park?
The green bike and the blue bike [that are there now] are bikes that we have handed over to Regent Park to place within the community as a kind of thank you for helping with the event. What we’re doing is that each colour of bike is going to mean something different. We have about six colours at this point.
The blue bike stands for community builders, which is why it’s been placed in conjunction with the learning centre [in Regent Park]. The green bikes are going to be an homage to Jane Jacobs. So we’re going to place those in sites around the city that either have attracted urban planning minds or places that need to attract more attention and need to be dealt with. So the idea of giving the green and the blue bikes to Regent Park is to celebrate the fact that they are doing such great community work.
What does your own bike look like?
Caroline and I have talked about hitting our bikes with streaks of colour but so far we haven’t done anything like that. They are just regular bikes.