etc. But he had ridden the Dunhill one in Canada back in the day and what I should do is make an eight. Which I had never heard of.”
“We were all pretty pissed but I totally latched on to it.”
The funding ended up being approved, and the project kept under the radar until a suitable venue was found. It was originally slated for a warehouse during the Games in June but it fell through last minute, and then The Briggait Wasps Studios location was secured for a narrow window in October. It was scaled to fit the space and budget, and production began. Materials alone accounted for £7000 of the budget, the rest paying contractors and friends along the way for help with design and onsite assembly. “In my workshop I manufactured all the structural elements as a giant kit, then me and four good mates, John, Rob, Jason and Dom moved it all onsite,” Murray continued. After a week of assembly and testing, and the addition of some safety rails at the particularly dangerous sections, the track was complete, ready to ride.
The Comedown was installed for not even a full month before having to make way for the next project in the space. Installed as a sculpture first, the “Longtermism / Shortermism” text works tied into Scotland’s referendum for independence. Stephen Murray explained, “The text and motion of riding it acted as a device to simply suggest positive and negative. Acceleration, deceleration, longterm thinking and short term thinking. I didn’t know the outcome when making the work, and it can be taken either way.”
For most of the installation The Comedown was open to the public for viewing only, with friends and friends of friends the only ones able to get a special appointment for a chance to ride it. The final week marked a bit of compromise—as long as people understood there was no insurance and they had the £10 for cab fare to the hospital they could give it a try. The near-45º banks and 2 m drop to concrete make it an imposing track to actually tackle, and require total commitment to ride. No horrific injuries reported, even if the local Halloween alleycat ended up with a final session of eight riders on The Comedown at once.
On the possibility of scaling up to a full-sized, figure-eight track Murray sounds hopeful for the future, “Basically we’re at a point now if someone wanted to step in and back us financially we could go rework the design and build a demountable, raceable, transportable, figure-eight velodrome. We’ve got the whole thing down. We would adjust a lot of things as this has been a massive learning curve and the difference between working in CAD and physically having the opportunity to make a 30 m x 12 m x 3.6 m sculptural velodrome is massive. But we’ve fucking done it.”
See more from sculptor Stephen Murray at www.stephenhodsdenmurray.com