finding beauty and resilience in a humble material

Bicycles by Chris Gilmour

When I first discovered this photo of British artist Chris Gilmour’s work (above), I was convinced that I was viewing carved wood sculptures.  But, even more remarkable, the artist constructed this life-size installation of bicycles entirely of cardboard and glue.

Gilmour’s work — other objects include cars, typewriters and wheelchairs — not only fools the eye, but also engages the imagination and challenges our understanding of familiar materials. The artist, whose meticulously crafted, life-like sculptures have been exhibited in the U.S. and Europe, says he chooses objects that “call up memories and emotions connected to our experiences of these (everyday) things.”

For many of us, what’s more evocative — especially of our youths — than a bike?


Artists aren’t the only ones exploring the creative possibilities of cardboard. Recently, Anirudha Surabhi developed a corrugated cardboard bicycle helmet, the Kranium, as the final project for his industrial design degree at London’s Royal College of Art. He says the light, but strong, corrugated cardboard ribs (right) offer better protection than polystyrene and that the helmet also may be reused after impact. Surabhi envisions bike shops selling Kranium helmets customized based on scans of cyclists’ heads and their choices of thin-plastic covers and straps (left). Another possible application: Cardboard helmets could be dispensed through vending machines at bike share kiosks — perhaps like those coming to New York City.

Kranium Bicycle Helmet

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