Wednesday 21st November: All tracks closed due to recent rain and today's forecast.

Hamilton Art Torque

The mixing of a motorcycle club and art

maddix park mx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Art Torque - In motoring terms, torque, crudely put, is a measure used to calculate horsepower; the ‘twisting’ power of an engine to spin its crank-shaft (and anything connected to it!). The Hamilton Motor Cycle Club’s connection to this museum is an odd kind of twisting, except in this case it’s the idea that a motor cycle club and art are merged into a lifelong memory of each other, through their gift of art to the city. 

Art Torque – The title of the exhibition caught my eye and definitely intrigued me.  Amazement followed as I read the name “Hamilton Motorcycle Club” and saw the connection.  Yes, I had read correctly.  The Hamilton Motorcycle Club had donated funds from the mid 70s to the early 80s for works of art to be purchased to benefit Hamilton City and there is a large art collection in the city museum/art gallery known as the Hamilton Motorcycle Club Collection.

I do admit that, despite my long association with such groups, I have never particularly associated motorcycle clubs with philanthropic gestures towards the artistic world.  So I contacted Gary Wendt, the club archivist-historian, for clarification.

“It all started back in the 70s”, he told me. “The Hamilton Club wanted to hold some motorcycle street races in the city centre.  Of course, there were the usual bureaucratic hassles regarding permits, street closures and the like.  However, we were fortunate to have the support of the then Mayor, Mike Minogue, which definitely helped our case, and permission was granted.  There was one condition, however.  The road race event had to be a “charitable” event with profits going to a “charity” of the club’s choice”.

“Obviously there was much discussion about who or what should be the chosen beneficiary.  In the end,  it was decided that rather than give to an organisation where the money “disappeared” in good works, the profits would go to the Hamilton Museum/Art Gallery for the purchase of objects or art that was related to the region and that would remain for posterity”.

“We successfully held the Hamilton Street Races around the Founder Theatre for several years and only stopped when finding appropriate marshalls for crowd control became a safety issue”.

“The Art Gallery initially used the money to buy ceramic works but then widened their purchasing to include a variety of paintings and other objects. They bought quite a lot of work from emerging local artists.  We, the club, didn’t have any say in what was bought and I have to say that some of the things wouldn’t have been my personal choice, but the collection is there, it exists, it has increased greatly in value over time and the club is proud of its contribution to the city’s heritage”.

“The Hamilton Motorcycle Club celebrated its 90th Birthday in 2010 so the exhibition was mounted to celebrate that milestone in the club’s history. This is the first time that “our collection” has been on display in its own exhibition but not all the works are included in it”.

The Hamilton Motorcycle Club can be justifiably proud of their contribution and I can only congratulate those earlier members on their great foresight.

Go to www.waikatomuseum.co.nz/page/pageid/2145844107/Trust_Waikato_Gallery   for info about the exhibition.  It is on until 31st July 2011. 

Also, does anyone have memories of the Founders Theatre Street Races they would like to share?

 
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    Grandparents at the Door by Michael Smithers

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