The Farm Bike

I have the privilege of living and painting on a beautiful farm in the heart of agricultural lands on the North-West Coast of Tasmania. During my early morning walks with my dog, I am constantly fascinated with tracks left in the dirt and mud by the activities of the farm equipment from the day before.

Seeing the pattern laid out from the circular objects, it soon became clear that the tyres were actually a drawing tool themselves. Ben the farmhand and I began to play with ideas, using the tractor, the bike and our feet to leave a faint impression of prints on boards. With a rough plan in mind, we left the rest to chance. I quickly traced around the patterns with a soluble pencil before the dust disappeared again. To honour the marks without romanticising them, I chose to paint using the orange colours of the dirt against stark, dark backgrounds. It is difficult to see the resulting image until the act of painting is complete and the pencil is washed away.

In the making of The Farm Bike I asked Ben to make arcs that would separate the back tyre from the front tyre, so that passing over the board would leave two distinct sets of prints, repeated three times. By removing the marks from the rough terrain and applying them to the sterile environment of a blank board they became clear, direct and resolute. I was presented with something I had never seen before – the lean of the bike under the shifting weight of it’s rider, brought to life by the physical presence of the painting. It is not ruminative or contemplative, but still charged with feeling and purpose.

Meg Collidge