Bikes and bodies: connect and create

Drawing is a perfect way to connect with and notice your surroundings. We decided that drawing bikes and bodies would be a great chance to learn about both of these things and their relationship to each other.

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We gathered at The Wonder Inn, a creative wellness centre in Manchester, to draw and discuss and learn. The group was drawn from a cross section of the Manchester community and women had come for different reasons. Some were intrigued by the original idea, some love bikes, some were feminists and wanted to celebrate International Women’s Day, some wanted to try life drawing for the first time, others wanted to connect with their creativity.

We started by doodling – the first key principle of drawing is to connect your mind and your hands and to understand how your materials behave. This also gave us the chance to feel comfortable in the room, get to know our model, Maggi-May, and to see our marks on paper without fear of making mistakes. We mused on what we value about our bodies. Whilst we doodled we listened to each other’s pride in the power of our bodies and each celebrated the value of our diverse bodies.

As we moved through a series of poses, learnt the value of just looking and grew more confident in our mark making we discussed the specific experience of being women and women who cycle. We noted how different and diverse women’s bodies are but how our experiences are often characterised by a conflict with our bodies. A few women noted how cycling has reduced this conflict through feeling powerful, empowered, not caring, losing weight, gaining muscle, changing shape or feeling free (or all of the above!).

An interesting discussion about our favourite bodily sensation inspired a renewed love of cycling in a number of the group. Women enjoy the feeling of wind, rain and sunshine on their skin and in their hair. One woman echoed a consensus that feeling powerful, especially standing up and ‘absolutely going for it’ was a great sensation. The meditative rhythm of breathing and pedaling was noted, as was the sensation of being out of breath. One woman mentioned the lovely feeling of weightlessness you experience when one your bike. And everyone agreed it’s a great place to think! I personally love feeling the wind through the hairs on my legs! A great reason not to shave your pins if ever there was one! We all agreed that a child-like sense of abandonment and freedom was something very special about cycling (and drawing!).

We ended the session by celebrating each other’s drawings and discussing the importance of mindful creativity and mindful cycling. The session was so incredibly uplifting; I think we all floated out the room on a wave of empowerment and solidarity!

Thank you so much to everyone who participated! A huge thank you to Maggi-May who participated and modeled! And thanks again to The Wonder Inn for hosting us.

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Here’s what some of the Lady Pedallers had to say about their experience:

 “It was great to spend time with a group of women sharing our experience thinking about body positivity and making art”

 “Great session! I loved the celebration of feminism, empowerment and cycling-we need more of this in Manchester”

 “It was one of the best afternoons I have spent. It’s helped me get in touch with my creativity and love my body and inspire me to bike more often.”

 “Always leave Lady Pedal events looking forward to riding my bike.”

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Photos: Patrycja Marczewska

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