The 6th International Journal of Motorcycle Studies conference will be hosted at Chelsea College of Arts, University of the Arts London in July 2016. This is an interdisciplinary conference with a curated exhibition to include examples of designed objects, advertising, fashion and photography, film and textiles to coincide with the conference.
The conference themes will aim to 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 Arts is ideally located both within London and in Europe to attract a large pan-European audience in addition to US delegates. The college is located on Millbank by the River Thames next to Tate Britain in Westminster and was previously in London’s Chelsea area. 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 has been undergoing a revival with the success of Triumph’s retro classic styles, Norton’s re-launch and more recently Matchless’s new luxury clothing line followed by its new model X Reloaded motorcycle.
The exhibition aims to engage with Chelsea’s motorcycle associations and build on previous connections 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 14th July will be the third time that two wheeled vehicles have been on site at Chelsea – see the archive images of Chelsea Space’s exhibition Ready Steady Go and IJMS 2013 conference video here.
Timeliness of this event: There are many instances of appropriation of motorcycle culture by mainstream culture and in the last 5 years plus 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 IJMS 2012 paper), Belstaff ‘s re-launch drawing upon their motorcycle heritage for their advertising campaigns (their luxury flagship store is on New Bond Street), Lewis Leathers re-launch; and Belstaff’s mini-films featuring David Beckham. 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 Sheila Malone and Christian A. Pierce.