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Art Bikers attempt to mend communities one stitch at a time

The mobile community arts program that brings art projects to neighbourhoods throughout Halifax will be at Fort Needham Memorial Park on August 7
Art Bikers
The Art Bikers, a mobile community arts program based in Halifax

A new biker gang will be taking over Fort Needham Memorial Park on August 7 but it’s not likely the band of swarthy roughnecks you are imagining.

Called the Art Bikers, the mobile bicycle and trailer-based art program is planning to set up shop in the North End park in order to launch their Clothing Care and Repair Project, the first of three outdoor public gatherings aimed at breathing new life into the items in your closet.

The Art Bikers have actually been roaming Halifax neighbourhoods since 2007. Formed through the 4Cs Foundation to provide free art-making opportunities around Halifax, the group has earned its place as a well-respected community-building program in HRM.

Renee Brazeau is the coordinator of the Art Biker’s 15th season.  She moved from Ottawa to get her Master’s degree in art education and says landing the position was a thrilling opportunity.

“I very much care about art education and I’m super passionate about teaching art and also I’m a certified teacher,” says the 23-year-old NSCAD student who was looking to explore ways to teach art outside the classroom and get more involved in the community.

“It’s really a pleasure to get involved and interact with different folks in different neighbourhoods, different communities — just seeing the joy that we can bring through art and connecting,” adds Brazeau. “(After the pandemic), you can just tell that everyone is just itching to be together and create together so it’s just a really nice treat.”

The Art Bikers have already hosted a handful of projects in Halifax since COVID-19 restrictions were lifted. The first event of the year was on July 10 at the Sands at Salter along the harbour where they launched a Waterfront Play Day and handed out free handmade booklets to children, encouraged drawing and participating in sidewalk games. 

The group has also hosted recurring pop-up activities every other week at Mulgrave Park Caring and Learning Centre as well as at The North Grove in Dartmouth.

“The way that I’ve been approaching the coordinator role has been (to say) how can I develop a relationship with different community partners and see what their needs are,” says Brazeau, with the focus always on the community’s needs. “I think as a pop-up art program, you’re going into communities that you don’t necessarily belong to or aren’t in on a regular basis (so) there’s a lot of relationship-building that needs to happen before just showing up.”

With the Art Bikers upcoming Clothing Care and Repair Project, the mobile arts crew will not only share their techniques and knowledge for mending or embellishing clothes in a fun way, but they will also be supplying participants with donated materials and tools.

“We encourage people to bring an item of clothing or maybe a few, depending on how much they want to work on throughout the event,” says Brazeau, suggesting any items with rips or wear and tear will do. As well, people can just bring clothes to be decorated.

“We are going to have things like zippers, buttons, lots of embroidery materials to do embroidery mending techniques,” adds Brazeau. “We’re also thinking of creating some screen-printed patches that people can use either as decoration or to cover up any sort of rip.”

Brazeau adds residents don’t necessarily need to have old clothes to mend in order to participate either. In fact, for her, one of the best parts of being a member of the Art Bikers is simply meeting other neighbours in the community.

“Learning from others and connecting with others — I think that’s so important especially with the past year and a half that we’ve had,” says Brazeau. “Just having the ability to connect with people in-person and create together is so special.”

For more information on the Art Bikers, visit their Facebook page.
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