Monday, April 8, 2013

Painting of 1954 Royal Enfield Meteor has own power

This Royal Enfield Meteor looks ready to rock'n'roll.
Artist Ian Cater shared with us his story of the Royal Enfield painting he never finished.

It was his first painting of a motorcycle. The artist and illustrator has gone on to do portraits of other motorcycles from the age of the cafe racers. You can see his work at his website, Motorcycle Art UK. His paintings make you want to put on your oldest leathers and ride to the sea.

And now, at last, he has done a Royal Enfield. And, unlike his first (a 1962 Royal Enfield Constellation), this one is finished.

"Attached is my latest effort," he wrote, "a '54 Meteor twin which for some reason I don't understand looks a bit like it was painted in 1954 too.

"It's not turned out quite the way I had expected. Which may have been what the Meteor's designers were thinking as the first one rolled off the Redditch production line.

"I've been wanting to paint a Royal Enfield for some time, but it's difficult. I know this might upset your readers but, truth is, they just aren't the most exciting-looking or stylish British bikes ever made.

"I know they tried with the Continental GT and late model Interceptors were pretty awesome, but mostly the designs were pretty workmanlike and lumpy. Old man's bikes, and by the late '60s/early '70s you didn't see that many of them around.

"Years ago I had a friend who bought an RE Crusader shortly after getting his driving licence; you could pick one up quite cheap. It was ridiculously difficult to start and he was constantly replacing head gaskets and other seals to stop the outflow of oil.

"If it had looked half decent it might have been worth it, but it didn't and he moved swiftly on to a Honda. My brother's Constellation was pretty impressive, huge engine and massive half-chrome tank, but in terms of looks, a Triumph Bonneville left it standing.

"So why make a painting of a vintage Royal Enfield? Because they're rare and thus slightly mysterious; because they're a bit different, because they're harder to like than more popular models.

"I hope your faithful followers won't be too upset by my comments about Enfield aesthetics. In reality I have a sneaking admiration for the humble RE because, as a typical 20th Century Brit, I have an instinctive affection for an underdog.

"The background for the Meteor is an Art Deco cafe in Canvey Island, east of London on the Thames estuary, home to the rock band Dr Feelgood. Very 1950s."

I think the painting captures the Meteor. Solid. Built Like a Gun, in fact.

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