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GREAT! Britten V1000 motorcycle

Most art gallery openings are fairly sedate affairs but not when it involves a Britten V1000 motorcycle.

In a noisy rear-wheel burnout, BEARS world champion Andrew Stroud scribed the letter B in the tarmac outside Christchurch Art Gallery last week to launch international artist Billy Apple’s long-awaited exhibition titled GREAT BRITTEN!

Billy Apple, a pioneer of the 1960s Pop Art and 1970s Conceptual Art movements, had his solo exhibition delayed for several years by the city’s devastating 2011 earthquake.

His intricately designed tribute to the Christchurch-designed-and-built motorcycle follows on from a similar exhibition celebrating the success of Kiwi car racers Bruce McLaren and Denny Hulme.

Like that popular showcase to New Zealand endeavour, his current version features the 1995 title-winning Britten carefully positioned against an apple-green walls with the race tracks Andrew Stroud won on emblazoned in crisp vinyl stencils. It’s a style that Billy Apple, who collaborated with Andy Warhol in New York in the 1960s, is world famous for.

Both the Britten motorcycle and Billy Apple’s background panels have been painted by Bob Brookland, the airbrush artisan who created the original and sensational V1000 race liveries.

The opening was attended by inventor John Britten’s widow, Kirsteen, his family and some of the original race team members.

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The owner of the World BEARS-winning Britten, Kevin Grant, explained the “B” burnout, a signature of Stroud’s whenever he won a major race.

“I wanted to get some action into the opening,” he said. “The special clauses in the insurance contract to allow this were a piece of art in themselves!”

This one-off exhibition runs until November 6.

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Photography: JOHN COLLIE

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