Tag Archives: motorbikes

The Ghostly Velocette

23 Aug

This evening was a bit overcast but warm, so we took a drive to Oxwich Bay on the Gower Peninsula, one of the most beautiful beaches in Britain set in Britain’s first designated area of outstanding natural beauty – and just a short drive away.There is a long road down to the beach, down a steep hill with some spectacular bends at the bottom, sweeping around large areas of saltmarsh. When I was a young biker, local lore had it that in the dim and distant past, a local motorcycle racer went for a spin on his new Velocette racing machine in the moonlight, took one of the bends too sharply and spun out of control into the saltmarsh, where he and his motorbike lie to this day, never seen again. It was said that during a full moon, the sound of a ghostly Velocette engine could be heard carrying over the marshes. I can remember a few of us riding down to Oxwich one night, after a few pints. I was young and very scared of the dark. We didn’t hear anything.

The tide around here goes out a long way and the beaches tend to be shallow, so when the tide is fully out, you can walk miles and explore the shoreline from the sea side rather than the land side and see lots of quite steep exposed rocks with wonderful rock pools, covered in many different weeds and full of anemones and fish. Here’s Husb looking down into one of them. The limpets make the smooth rocks look spotty.

ps I’m not advocating drinking and riding. I was young and daft when I did it.

Drawings For A Dead Biker

29 May

There’s an odd little church nearby for born-again-bikers; the pastor and church members are outlaw bikers who have converted to Christianity and today they held a funeral for one of their members. There were hundreds of motorbikes, some really gorgeous ones – Triumphs, Harleys, a few vintage and everyone turned up in full colours as a mark of respect. They were from all over the place and were not just the Christian bikers [whose colours bear the logo ‘God Squad’]. It was a great scribbling opportunity and as I was sketching it took me back to my own wild youth, I was a biker chick and rode several BSAs and a Triumph. The occasion reminded me of two of my old biker friends who died from tragic accidents, ironically not involving motorbikes, when they were in their twenties. It’s over two decades ago now but today’s funeral brought the grief back very suddenly and sharply. When people die, we struggle on and gradually the grief fades into the background, but never really goes away, waiting to be activated by something, like it was earlier.

I don’t know the biker whose funeral it was today – someone said his name was Baz – his friends did him proud. It was a fantastic turnout; the streets around were full and the police held up the traffic so the hearse could be accompanied by an unbroken convoy of hundreds of motorbikes. My friend, neighbour and fellow artist, Mel, posted photos of the cortege on Facebook here. It was good discipline for me to sketch a crowd, I normally work with single figures so I need to practice putting people together, getting the perspective and proportions right. I also rarely draw inanimate objects, so doing the bikes was a challenge – how do designers cope with it? Their brains, and patience, must be phenomenal!

Man and Boy on a Seashore Safari; Big Bikes at the Ice Cream Parlour

14 Aug

Ink drawing: Man and Boy.

I carry a small sketchbook and a pack of four Faber Castell Pitt drawing pens, sizes S, F, M and B in black and I’m always scribbling. The most difficult is drawing on the move, trying to capture spontaneous moments of life in a few seconds. This fleeting sketch was done two summers ago when we took our two little nephews, Nathan and Owain, to the Seashore Safari in Swansea Bay at Mumbles.

Our local council puts on loads of free educational events throughout the school holidays and on this blazing hot day we went to the beach for a guided tour of rock pools and beach life from local environmentalists, teaching children how to care for the seashore environment. It was fascinating but we were constantly moving, so I had to work fast to draw Nathan and Melvyn exploring the shoreline. Nathan had borrowed Melvyn’s beany hat, which was huge on him, but it kept him shaded.

We found some tiny brittle star fish  that I had never seen before. Afterwards we went up to the old pier which was in a pretty bad way; the far end was almost falling into the sea and had been cordoned off, but fishermen had clambered over the dodgy crumbling edge to get a better pitch. Then we went along the promenade to Verdi’s ice cream parlour and a large cornet to cool off. There are always bikers outside Verdis scoffing ice cream and admiring each others machines. I did a quick sketch using a new set of pens; Faber Castell Pitt greyscale brushes.


Ink drawing: bikers at the ice cream parlour

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