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Pain in the art

Artist Clem Chen creates uncomfortable saddle sculptures

Listed as a finalist for the recent Asia Awards 2013, a competition to promote international art and design launched in collaboration with designboom, the world's first and most popular digital architecture and design magazine and Design Association NPO, one of Japan's leading design consultancies, these bicycle saddle sculptures from Canadian designer Clem Chen transform recycled bike parts into works of art.

Clem is a practitioner of printmaking, painting and assemblage, drawing inspiration from media and pop culture. Living and working in Vancouver his work has been shown in Canada, USA, Germany and Japan.

Titled “Bite It” and “Pink Eye”, neither phrases you’d normally want to hear in relation to saddles, the customised fittings were made by carving out openings and inserting plastic-cast taxidermy molds, the bits that make stuffed dead animals look alive, into them.

Featuring a snarling mouth and creepy eye, the parts are held together with construction adhesive and 2-part epoxy glue, with additional sculpting done using epoxy putty. To achieve the uncomfortably realistic look, details were painted in acrylic, while the body was given a matte-black spray finish. 

The works were originally made for the “Saddle-up!” show at the Hot Art Wet City gallery in Vancouver where local artists were given used bike seats, donated by PEDAL to be modified and reinterpreted.

PEDAL stands for “Pedal Energy Development ALternatives” and is a Vancouver based organization whose mission is to recycle and refurbish bicycles, taking bikes out of the waste stream and offering affordable bikes for sale, and encouraging cycling as a sustainable, healthy transportation choice.
Both of those look a lot more comfortable than that Shark saddle.

Jo Burt has spent the majority of his life riding bikes, drawing bikes and writing about bikes. When he's not scribbling pictures for the whole gamut of cycling media he writes words about them for and when he's not doing either of those he's pedaling. Then in whatever spare minutes there are in between he's agonizing over getting his socks, cycling cap and bar-tape to coordinate just so. And is quietly disappointed that yours don't He rides and races road bikes a bit, cyclo-cross bikes a lot and mountainbikes a fair bit too. Would rather be up a mountain.

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