As the plane touched down in Edinburgh on Friday afternoon the sunshine greeted us with some lovely spring warmth. We dropped off our stuff and headed to Ronde to meet everyone, say hello and take a quick look at the space I'd be filling for my first ever exhibition. I find words like 'Exhibiton' and 'Artist' a bit odd, [perhaps its nerves or not wanting to seem like a big head] they fill me slightly with dread as they often come with pretence or self appointed notions or grandeur. This isn't me at all, and was one of the things I've always wanted to avoid. So when Neil Dryden from Ronde in Edinburgh got in touch about exhibiting work on their walls I was nervous to say the least.
Neil Dryden is one of the most enthusiastic people I've ever met, he loves all things cycling and Ronde is his and Neil Millsop's [the Neil with the beard] baby. They've done a fantastic job, creating a shop which encapsulates everything I love about the sport and the culture around it. The people that work there, such as ex pro cyclist John Stollery are knowledgeable, warm and friendly without ever looking down their noses at people which you some times get from Local Bike Shop types. The shop is stocked with the a fantastic range of brands such as Cinelli and Singular, it was difficult to not reach for the credit card when surrounded by such bike based wonder.
We'd been working on the plan for the show for about a month, and things had come together brilliantly, I had my prints done with my local printers down here in Brighton [Frame Factory] and then they were nervously packaged within an inch of their lives and sent up to Edinburgh. They arrived safely and were then passed into the safe hands of Ronde's own framing wizard Andy Shaw. Andy framed the prints at local framers Altered Images Scotland and when I saw them for the first time I was blown away by the quality and attention to detail he had paid my work. Andy Shaw is also a photographer [a man of many talents it seems] and the photos of the prints in the framing process are by him, I think they're brilliant. We were greeted that Friday evening almost like old friends and from then I knew the weekend was going to be a great one.
pics by Andy Shaw
Arriving the next morning both Elli and myself set to work hanging the pieces on the walls. First working out the best way to group things [Elli's experience in this was a god send] and then putting everything up. The shop was filling with cyclists, coffee lovers and families enjoying a morning out in Edinburgh. All seemed to really enjoy the work going up and were looking forward to coming back later to see everything up and share a beer and a chat. Sitting with a brew later that day the time had flown by, and looking at the my work on the walls I couldn't help but feel proud of how it all looked. It's difficult to get a handle on the wide reaching effect a magazine like Rouleur has on the cycling world. People love the mag, how it breaks from the norm and creates quality pieces in more and more of an interesting way. To be part of that suddenly hit home in a way I hadn't felt before, to go from my house in Sussex to now exhibiting for the people of Edinburgh was a really awesome [if a little nerve jangling] feeling. I just hoped someone came to the private view that evening. But with twitter and the promise of beer, wine, nibbles and good cycling chat I thought we would at least get one person...
Returning later with Elli and with the sun still streaming in through the windows of the shop I opened my first beer of the evening. People came, and then kept coming. Faces, names and even voices [the lovely chaps from the velo club don logan arrived and I heard them before I spotted them] came through the door of the shop, all with a big grin on their faces wanting to see the work, chat to me and talk about cycling in general. The noise level in the shop got louder and as I met new person after new person the time flew by. One of the first people I saw were a couple I'd created a portrait for last year. Martin Farrell and his wife Diana were one of the first commissioned portraits [you can see it if you click on their names] I'd done and to chat to them was fantastic. People I'd recognise through sometimes obscure twitter names were really great to meet and put a real name and face to the one hundred and forty character interactions in the past. Jim Speakman for example was wearing one of my t-shirts pretty proudly and it was great to chat to him and others. The night went on and the beer and wine flowed. People that had just met seemed to be chatting happily, all coming together for their love for all things cycling and the culture that surrounds it.
Graham and Gary from the Velo Club Don Logan Podcast produced a microphone and asked if I'd like to be involved in another Podcast [I'd been interviewed by them before] and I was happy to be involved, they both love the sport of cycling and are really doing a lot to promote the sport in Scotland at the moment. You can hear the result by visiting their site CLICKING HERE. and going to 27min 35sec ish.
A real highlight of the night was meeting Scott Mitchell, who, along with his good friend Bradley Wiggins had created the book "On Tour Bradley Wiggins." Scott, who is now working with Team Sky, went to the Tour with Bradley and the book documents an inside view of the race. When the book came out it stood out to me straight away as both a cycling fan and photography fan. So to meet Scott, for him to come to my show and for him to say how much he liked the work was really flattering.
The night drew to an end, and we said our farewells and headed back to the place we were staying in Grassmarket. With a slight fuzzy head I woke the next morning. The night had been a success and when we visited Ronde the next day to watch the Tour of Flanders more people chatted to me about the work on the walls. Eventually the time came to head home. Saying our goodbyes took some time as we had made a lot of friends in the short time we'd spent there. I can't wait to head back to Scotland again soon, whether that is for a visit, exhibition or the cyclocross race HaughCross in July.
Putting on this show was a first for me, but I'm hoping it won't be the last time I get to do it. If you run a place that would like to show my work then click the email link and on the left and get in touch. Also, if you've seen any of my images and would like to buy them? give me a shout. The printers I work with in Brighton do a fantastic job and the work looks really great hanging on the wall. Alternatively you can check out the Rouleur Print Shop and order some of my work online. Thanks for reading and see you out on the bike...
Reproduced with thanks from Rich's blog at www.richmitch.co.uk