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Sculptor Robertus Joost van der Wege creates artworks out of bicycles.
Sculptor Robertus Joost van der Wege struck gold about six years ago. It started with a single piece: four bicycles attached in a ring around a tree.
“I took off the front fork and wheel, and they were all supported on the back tire, so that four humans could use it (the bike) and it wouldn’t in any way touch or affect the tree,” explained van der Wege, who now lives in Calgary, AB.
The piece, A Ride in the Woods, only came to be thanks to the Malta Bike Man, a German farmer in Malta, IL, who collected hundreds of discarded bicycles, ran a makeshift bicycle repair shop and supplied van der Wege (who lived nearby at the time) with raw materials.
Today, van der Wege’s bicycle art ranges from 10-foot-high “exercycles” to African-style headdresses created from seats and handlebars and unicycle-riding Egyptian tomb figures. He just finished up a six-week-long show, in August. The Secret Life of Bicycles, at Calgary’s DaDe Art & Design Lab, in August.
While van der Wege enjoys cycling and admits to having a garage full of bikes, it’s more the form of the bicycle that fuels his creative fire.
“Obviously we made that step beyond it to the car, to the plane, to the space shuttle,” he said. “But we’re still using this. It’s a piece of us that has remained viable. The bike has become more complex, but it’s still not that far away from where it was when it reached its high point in terms of its evolution.”
Cadence Mandybura is a freelance writer based in Calgary, AB. Her writing has appeared in WestJet’s up! magazine, Calgary’s Fast Forward Weekly and The New Indian Express, based in Chennai, India.