Welcome to the world of Richard Goodwin, where curiosity and understanding of man and machine is dismantled and shown under a different light. You’ll find machines that are a beautiful example of vintage style, and others that have been blown apart and set for a wholly new purpose.
Bodgies doing wheelies on their BSA’s, donned with their studded jackets and their Widgies on the back. This was 1958 in Homebush Australia, and where Richard grew up. This rebellious excitement of the roaring motorcycles and counter-culture nature of the Bodgies and Widgies would plant the first seeds of love for motorcycles in Richard. “When I was 13, I was given my first motorbike by my Father. Unfortunately, it was a clapped out NSU Scooter circa 1950. I still managed to get it going, strip it down and turn it into a dirt bomb. At high school I rode a Bridgestone 175 twin, the vanguard of Japanese machines. All I wanted was a brand new BSA Thunderbolt but had to suffice with my friend’s AJS’s, Triumphs and dodgy Enfields, which were too heavy for me to lift if they dropped. This was the ‘60’s. The love affair was for life. Strangely the unwanted diversion of the scooter did lead me to a passion for Messerschmidt 3 wheelers. I still own a fully functional K200.”
This love and curiosity for motorcycles and other machines would evolve into something more than just riding them, as he went on to hold a Master of Artichtecture from RMIT University, Melbourne and is a Professor at Sydney College of Fine Arts. Richard’s work in architecture soon began to evolve into sculpture, as he amalgamated various skills and passions in his life into new works.
Scattered throughout Richard’s home and studio lie interesting machines, each with their own story and piece of history. Amongst the art and paint in his studio sits a Honda CB750 sidecar racer. It’s an aggressive and chaotic machine, sitting silently amongst the art-in-progress and the Jackson Pollockesque floor. “I have always loved and wanted that ultimate of beasts, the 3-wheel racer. Especially a hand-made one that was in racing mode and still going. My friend Russell got to this one first, so I had to convince him that my need for it was more. It will form a centrepiece for my next art installation at the Australian Galleries in Melbourne in November this year. The asymmetric bike is the ultimate provocation for two bodies. Lying over its Honda CB750 racing engine at full throttle is life changing – and now art.” It’s this appreciation and passion for both machine and art that creates uniqueness in Richard’s work. He isn’t an artist playing with motorcycles for the fun of it, as he loves riding on the road at speed as much as creating sculptures and art in his studio or at home.
Sitting near the entrance to Richard’s studio is a blacked out KTM with sidecar. This is a remnant from Richard’s work on Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. “Norma Moriceau, the costume designer, was a friend who had always liked my prosthetic body sculptures. After agreeing to lend Mad Max a prosthetic arm sculpture of mine, Norma wanted me to help with Tina Turner’s outfit. My (then) large studio in Balmain was a perfect hiding place for Tina and her costuming. I worked with Norma and Tina to make the work, and later on the Master’s Helmet, and Angry Anderson‘s gear. It was amazing to be in Thunderdome and to see the cars and bikes at work. Everything was real – the cars were the most exciting and dangerous pieces of machinery I had ever experienced. They took me back to my teenage years scrambling in the bush.”
After pouring through all the works in progress and getting an understanding of Richard’s work, it was time to check out his remarkable home, where we would find more machines in various forms. Sitting proudly in the middle of a room sat Richard’s 1949 Velocette, a bike that after learning about Richard’s early life is no surprise to be seen. “The Velocette was a dream come true, finally taking me to a bike I would have so loved when I was younger. It’s a 1949 single 500cc with telescopic front forks – a first for Velocette. The sort of bike you wind up to its power-band and then it’s like pouring cream out of a jug. I bought it about 20 years ago, I think from the Velocette expert Bill Murray. It wasn’t hiding anywhere; I just had to have enough money to buy it then to restore it. It’s still a temperamental old bastard, but beautiful. I also have a 1946 Murphy side-car for it.”
Walking away from the traditional and beautiful Velocette, you’re met with something more modern and challenging. A brand new Honda CBR600RR, dismantled, combusted and frozen in a crossfire of steel. This is a powerful representation of machine vs art and of Richard’s work. “This is where I use the machines as part of my art practice. I am interested in where the body ends and architecture begins. Bikes are exoskeletons and this idea can be pushed to buildings as well. As an artist/architect my work also critiques functionalism. So how can something become something else outside its function? The explosion of a perfectly good and new motorbike into a new construction is exciting and challenges the viewer to rethink the object. A lot of people hated me for destroying new bikes. Then advertising gets onto it and machines are exploding everywhere – although mine is real.”