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JH

Apple’s Britten Tribute

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Britten V1000 installed in GREAT BRITTEN! A Work by Billy Apple at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu, July 2016. F002–92 collection of Kevin Grant. Photo: John Collie Britten V1000 installed in GREAT BRITTEN! A Work by Billy Apple at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu, July 2016. F002–92 collection of Kevin Grant. Photo: John Collie Britten V1000 installed in GREAT BRITTEN! A Work by Billy Apple at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu, July 2016. F002–92 collection of Kevin Grant. Photo: John Collie Britten V1000 installed in GREAT BRITTEN! A Work by Billy Apple at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu, July 2016. F002–92 collection of Kevin Grant. Photo: John Collie Billy Apple, 'Paying Tribute' (2016) Computer-cut vinyl text on PPG 2K automotive paint on canvas, 1364 x 843 x 35mm. Photo: John Collie Billy Apple, 'Paying Tribute' (2016) Computer-cut vinyl text on PPG 2K automotive paint on canvas, 1364 x 843 x 35mm. Photo: John Collie 1995 BEARS Championship trophy. Lead crystal glass. Collection of Britten Motorcycle Company. Photo: John Collie

The '1995 BEARS world championship race circuits ridden by Andrew Stroud on the Britten V1000' (2016) mural on the background wall is one of the few Apple paintings that doesn't have a reference to the Golden Section, and this makes it quite unusual, even refreshing. With the five organic loops that almost could be read as gestural drawings, there is also an enjoyable emotional looseness, even an exuberant wildness (despite the underpinning conceptual structure).

Christchurch

 

Billy Apple
Great Britten!

 

16 July - 9 November 2016

In the tradition of his other motor-racing homage exhibitions - like The Bruce and Denny Show held at Two Rooms in 2008 - this Billy Apple presentation is a tribute to a tenacious winner of races and also (as well) an extraordinarily gifted designer and engineer. John Britten‘s remarkable achievements as bike engine re-inventor are well known but this exhibition showcases them (and the fabulous racing/riding abilities of Andrew Stroud) for an art audience who resides in Britten’s home town. Though not quite a balanced partnership like the Bruce (McLaren) and Denny (Hulme) connection, this is nevertheless a John and Andrew Show.

As you’d expect, Britten’s V1000 machine takes centre stage on a low plinth, the bike’s bodywork painted by Bob Brookland, whom Apple has later commissioned to do the signage (with vinyl-cut lettering) of the two canvas homages, using the same colours.

Behind the motorbike, on the main wall, is a mural that pays tribute to the five races won by Stroud/Britten in 1995, the last one occurring just shortly before Britten died tragically of melanoma. Those races were won in Daytona (United States), Thruxton (Great Britain), Osterreichring (Austria), Brands Hatch (Great Britain) and Assen (Netherlands). Through them, the BEARS (British European American Racing Series) Cup was acquired. On the green field are the five looping tracks of the five courses, an arrow in each one indicating lapping direction.

On the other side of the room is the 1995 BEARS trophy itself, resplendently intricate in its cut-glass, twinkling, crystal.

The 1995 BEARS world championship race circuits ridden by Andrew Stroud on the Britten V1000 (2016) wall mural is particularly impressive. The checkered flag that runs as a frieze along the bottom edge connects it with the flag in Apple’s two Auckland streetworks outside Eden Park. Plus the vertical edges of the green rectangle do not extend tightly into the corners but stay an inch or two out, so that the two white side walls gently curve in towards the painting, subtly framing it.

Also, the 1995 BEARS mural is extremely interesting for a number of other reasons. The most salient is that it is one of the few Apple paintings that doesn’t have a reference to the Golden Section, and this makes it quite unusual, even refreshing. With the five organic loops that almost could be read as gestural drawings, there is also an enjoyable emotional looseness, even an exuberant wildness (despite the underpinning conceptual structure). The amoeboid map-like configurations of the courses, their coincidental associative properties, mentally work in a way not normally connected with this artist.

This is a fascinating multi-levelled exhibition, one that is on till early November.

John Hurrell

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