An archive of the words & pictures of Lionel Douglas 1944 -1979

The Italian Machine Project

An archive of the words & pictures of Lionel Douglas 1944 -1979

A rare, complex being was Lionel Douglas. An activist in the truest sense, he was a surfer of the mind who greeted life with aplomb, satiric wit, and celebration. His photographs, born of light, display the extrovert, the polished eye of objectivity. His poems, born on the kitchen table, reveal the introspective ear, bent to the mystery of his own being. Just as he could intuit the heart of a Ducati 750, he made a vehicle of his insight into the human psyche.

— JOHN DOUGLAS [close friend]

Lionel Douglas was my father. He died in 1979, cutting short an intense and creative life.

I’ve been thinking I’d like to develop a memoir project about Lionel for a while now. & I’ve wanted to digitize his body of work, both for public consumption and for my own reference. The Italian Machine Project site has grown out of that. I plan to publish collections of his work via print on demand services. And already have a few prints for sale via Red Bubble.

Lionel was very active in Toronto in his youth so the first negatives I’ve been scanning document some of the headiness and culture of Toronto’s arts and Music scene, underground counter culture, and life in the streets in general. He had a real talent for capturing moments,  it’s been a joy documenting his work and cleaning up choice images to bring to the public. This first set of photos can now be ordered on cardsposters or prints, in a large range of sizes and framing/mounting options. They will make beautiful additions to any home.

Funds initially will go towards a medium format scanner with which to complete the proses of archiving all Lionel’s work.

About the name of the site

One of my fathers friends was film maker David Cronenberg. He has no involvement with this site but in 1976 he made a short film called The Italian Machine. It featured a group of motorcycle enthusiast, led by a bearded mad man named Lionel, who become obsessed with acquiring a rare Ducati Desmo Supersport in the possession of a rich art dealer keeping it on display as art.

It’s a very entertaining short film, it also depicts a fantastic cartoon of Lionel and his love of two-wheeled beauties.


Bike Poem

The night is young
Old days passed yet not
my body’s passion spent
I seek the air
that moves me
I don gloves
with measured grace
and stroke the tank
a special place
The motor fires
the light is still
a flicker on chrome
spattered now with erratic throbbing
fills the tongue of asphalt
below the lawn
The clutch is free
my pulse is still
Tonight she came in laboured gasps
A climb of long duration
has climaxed here in broken sobs
I can’t see the sun
I climb aboard tomorrow’s summer
And take off like a gun

Lionel Douglas 1971

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