Short Film Director: Alex Thraves | Producer: Tim Fransen

The 3rd International Journal of Motorcycle Studies conference will be hosted at Chelsea College of Art and Design, University of the Arts London in July 2013. This is an interdisciplinary conference with a curated exhibition to include examples of designed objects, advertising, fashion and photography, film and performance textiles to coincide with the conference.

The conference themes will encompass art, design, cultural studies (sub- and pop- culture, gender, identity etc.), fashion studies, sustainability, history and visual culture, science and engineering. The event itself aims to attract a mixture of delegates from different academic disciplines, designers, enthusiasts and people from industry.

Why Chelsea:  Chelsea College of Art and Design is ideally located both within London and in Europe to attract a large pan-European audience in addition to US delegates.  The college is now located on Millbank by the River Thames next to Tate Britain in Westminster and was previously in London’s Chelsea area.  Since the end of WWII London has been the undisputed subcultural capital of the world and Chelsea itself is a site of both subcultural and more importantly Motorcycle history: the legendary 1950s Ton-up boys used Chelsea Bridge as their hang-out and ‘parade’ ground.  British history of Design: The importance of the British motorcycle industry’s history is world-renowned and currently undergoing a revival with the success of Triumph’s retro classic styles and Norton’s re-launch.

The exhibition aims to engage with this specificity of place and also build on previous links with the College and sub/popular culture most notably the Lloyd Johnson exhibition at Chelsea Space which attracted a large audience and Ace Café riders. The exhibition opening on 4th July will be the second time that two wheeled vehicles have been on site at Chelsea – see the archive images of Chelsea Space’s exhibition Ready Steady Go.

Timeliness of this event: There are many instances of appropriation of motorcycle culture by mainstream culture and in the last 5 years this includes: established luxury fashion houses like Chanel and Longchamp aligning themselves  with motorcycle marques drawing upon notions of luxury and craftsmanship in their mini-films (the topic of conference co-ordinator Caryn Simonson’s recent paper),  Belstaff ‘s re-launch drawing upon their motorcycle heritage for their advertising campaigns (their new luxury flagship store opens soon on New Bond Street),  Lewis Leathers re-launch , Ruby helmets collaborated with fashion house Maison Margiela and textile designers Eley Kishimoto; and Lana del Rey’s latest video Ride which introduces ‘old skool’ biker culture to a new audience. There are many ongoing revivals both with motorcycle marques designing retro style machines  (Triumph, Norton, Ducati etc.) and associated clothing, and individuals and lifestyle bikers forming niche groups for particular styled and customised bikes.

IJMS is a peer-reviewed online academic journal founded by a group of international scholars. It has hosted conferences on the Isle of Man and in North America at the University of Colorado Springs.  The journal is currently edited by Steven Alford and Suzanne Ferriss, authors of Motorcycle (Reaktion Books 2008), a book that investigates the motorcycle as a design object.