The collaboration was born out of a shared love for the colour pink between two neighbours and friends – Bournemouth-based artist Stuart Semple and Poole-based Alex Trimnell, CEO of the bike care and maintenance brand Muc-Off. Muc-Off first gained notoriety with top riders for their famous bike cleaner – a perfectly pink spray – and continues to use the hue throughout its brand identity. In 2016, Semple released his ‘Pinkest Pink’ – a response to Anish Kapoor’s exclusive use of the colour Vantablack – and launched a whole array of custom pigments available to artists all around the world to buy and use.
“I’m actually obsessed with the colour pink, it’s a powerful colour that you never can quite miss or ignore. There’s something potent about it. I love the idea of the bike as a canvas because it’s something that has utility. People can actually use it and take art out into the world.” Stuart Semple.
Semple and Muc-Off also share a reputation for their rebellious and unconventional approaches. Semple is well known for his sociologically engaged works that often discuss youth politics, accessibility, and democracy, with a contemporary emphasis on latent fear. Particularly in his performance art, his work also often tackles the themes of accessibility, equality, and elitism head on, such as in his ‘Hostile Design’ campaign and through CultureHustle.com, an elaborate and ongoing piece of internet performance art through which he pursues his mission to liberate colour from the chains of trademarks and greedy corporations. Muc-Off, since its inception in 1994, has become renowned for its edgy and experimental brand communications, often jarring with an industry which is steeped in tradition, conformity, and exclusivity.
“At Muc-Off, we’ve always looked beyond our industry for inspiration. We love provoking a reaction with our brand, as an artist does with their artwork. I’ve been a fan of Stuart’s for a long time, his punk mentality is clear in everything he does, and he makes art accessible to everyone, not just the elite. This is exactly what we aim to do within our category, so I’m stoked to be collaborating with him on this project and raising money for such an important charity.” Alex Trimnell, CEO at Muc-Off.
‘HappyBike’ is painted using Semple’s ‘Pinkest Pink’ pigment and features thousands of smiley faces all over the Canyon Endurace CF SL frame. The aero-focussed, sleek form of the frame provided the perfect canvas to really showcase the design, which was also complemented with an upgraded DT Swiss ARC 140 wheelset.
The design stems from some of Semple’s most instantly recognisable works, including his sculptural installation in Denver, I should be crying but I just can’t let it show – a huge squished smiley face, forced into a smile between two buildings in a downtown alleyway. He also released biodegradable smiley face clouds from the Tate Modern across the London skyline, a symbol of hope at the height of the 2008 recession. Semple’s HappyClouds performance has since been toured to cities around the world, including Toronto, Milan, Dublin, Hong Kong, and Moscow. In 2018, Semple’s ‘Happy City’ project took over the city of Denver, incorporating a series of large-scale public artworks, installations, immersive experiences, and his participatory exhibition 'Happiness HQ'.
The individual smiley faces on HappyBike are not visible when viewed from a distance, which Semple likens to a crowd of spectators or a peloton, which appear to be a single entity from far away; it is only when you come closer that the individuals – each unique, like real people – are revealed. The design also signifies Semple’s belief that we are stronger around other people, especially when dealing with mental health challenges, which can intensify when we feel alone and disconnected from others.
Semple openly talks about how he uses art and creativity as a therapeutic outlet to help him deal with his own mental health challenges and those of his late grandmother, who developed late onset schizophrenia in 2011. It was at that point his partnership with Mind began, with Semple becoming an ambassador of the charity and setting up the ‘Creatives Therapies Fund’ which provides access to art, writing, and music, supporting others through their issues with mental health. Although not a cyclist himself, Semple recognises that sport, and specifically cycling, can be another outlet for improving mental health.
“I think in life we all find things that make us feel better as a way of coping with what we are going through. So many people I know turn to cycling as a way to get out of their head and into the world, and that’s exactly how I use painting.” SS
Steve Fearn, Senior Marketing Communications Manager.
T +44779 547 3002 E firstname.lastname@example.org
Back in 1991 Rex and Marilyn Trimnell got things started with X-Lite UK. After designing and manufacturing the world’s first twin crown bicycle fork, Rex created a perfectly pink spray to clean his kit. To cut a long story short, Rex’s cleaner was the best thing since sliced bread, and it wasn’t long before word got out and Muc-Off was born.
Fast-forward to now and Muc-Off is the go-to brand for top riders. And, in case you haven’t noticed, we do a bit more than our original pink cleaner these days.
See the full range at: www.muc-off.com.
About Stuart Semple:
Stuart Semple b.1980 UK.
After studying art at Bretton Hall in the Yorkshire Sculpture Park the late 90s, Stuart Semple has enjoyed 15 solo exhibitions dedicated to his work internationally and has participated in hundreds of group exhibitions. As such his works and performances have been seen at the ICA, Barbican, Denver Art Museum, Whitworth, Leeds City Gallery, and Bermondsey Project Space. He is well known for his ‘HappyClouds’ performances in which he fills skies with artificially generated smiley-faced clouds. Initially performed outside Tate Modern in London, the work has subsequently travelled to cities including Toronto, Milan, Dublin, Hong Kong & Moscow. In 2013 Stuart received a Happiness Hero medal on the UN’s first International Day of Happiness in recognition of the HappyCloud project.
In 2016 Semple launched an ongoing internet performance project ‘CultureHustle’ which disseminates art materials made in Semple’s studio including the world’s Pinkest Pink, Blackest Black, and an incredibly Kleinish Blue amongst other materials.
His 2019 documentary for BBC Radio 4 on Hostile Design was nominated for a radio academy award and the project is on permanent display at the new Young V&A in London.
Stuart has written for the Guardian, Huffington Post, Art of England magazine, Phoenix Magazine, Spanish Vogue and Artlyst. He has spoken on art, creativity and mental health at Oxford Union, The Southbank Centre, ICA, Frieze, Dublin Art Museum, Denver Art Museum, Dulwich Picture Gallery, and others.
In 2020 he founded GIANT, the UK’s largest artist-run gallery space in an old department store in his hometown of Bournemouth. Here he has presented a series of major exhibitions featuring work by international artists including Martha Rosler, Jake & Dinos Chapman, Jim Lambie, Tai Shani, Louise Bourgeois, Martin Parr, Guerrilla Girls, Jordan Wolfson, Gavin Turk, and many others.
Stuart currently lives and works in Bournemouth and Glastonbury.
Twitter & Instagram: @stuartsemple