Art on the Underground, Transport for London's (TfL's) acclaimed public arts programme, this week unveiled 100 - a new artwork consisting of one hundred one-line poems inspired by the capital's bus network. Two London-based artists, Jay Bernard and Yemisi Blake, were commissioned by Art on the Underground to create visual artworks based on people's experiences of travelling by bus. The resulting artwork has now been unveiled at Walthamstow, Greenwich and Kingston (Cromwell Road) bus stations and will remain in place until spring 2015.
100 looks into the people, history and technology behind the London bus with each line a single thought or an individual's personal experience. Taken together, the poems map the networks and intersections between the city, the buses, drivers and passengers, both historically and today.
The project is one of TfL's final celebrations to mark 2014's Year of the Bus, in partnership with London Transport Museum and the capital's bus operators and is funded entirely by sponsorship.
Bernard and Blake explore buses as physical objects as well as social spaces within which multiple lives and stories overlap, intertwine and disperse. The poems offer a series of different perspectives; from the buses' role in the First World War to first generation Caribbean bus drivers in the 1940s; from first experiences to favourite routes and contemporary experiences of travel. Together they create a map of collective memories tracing over the city.
The work was developed following a period of research that Bernard and Blake undertook in summer 2014. Over this time they attended a series of bus garage open days organised by TfL and the capital's bus operators as part of the Year of the Bus. The artists met with passengers, bus enthusiasts and staff: recording their experiences and learning of the behind-the-scenes work that goes into the maintenance of London's buses.
The installation at each bus station is bespoke and responds to the specific architecture of the bus station. Visually, the works are bold and simple, echoing the famous schematic transport maps with geometric shapes and linear networks. In addition to the original works at Walthamstow, Greenwich and Kingston (Cromwell Road) bus stations, Londoners and visitors to the city will be able to enjoy the poems on posters in London Underground stations across the city.
The project marks the first time that Art on the Underground has commissioned art for London's bus network. The result is an artistic homage to London's world famous buses over the last 100 years. Particular emphasis has been placed on the ways in which the role of the motorised bus has changed since it was first introduced to London's streets over 100 years ago.
Jay Bernard and Yemisi Blake say: "People have these stories on the tips of their tongue, but have never been asked. These poems are our ode to the bus as a social space. Learning from London bus staff and meeting with such a broad range of passengers made clear the wealth of experiences to be had aboard our famous London buses, and the limitless social possibilities that come with each journey."
Leon Daniels, Managing Director of Surface Transport at TfL, said: `London's buses are viewed as icons of our great city across the globe. I'm delighted that such a thought provoking artistic commission will round off what has been a highly memorable year in celebration of the London bus, bus drivers and the staff who support them in keeping the capital moving.`
Eleanor Pinfield, Head of Art on the Underground, said: `With 100, Jay Bernard and Yemisi Blake have captured what buses mean to London, an icon of the city for over a century. Bernard and Blake's 100 poems capture the social space that is the bus, a space where we share experiences. Art on the Underground is delighted to take our programme on to London's buses for the first time.`
Events and activities were held throughout 2014 to celebrate the Year of the Bus and marked a number of important anniversaries. These included 60 years since the creation of the original and iconic Routemaster, 75 years since the launch of its predecessor the RT-type bus, and 100 years since hundreds of London buses were sent to the Western Front to play a crucial role during the First World War.
The Year of the Bus was supported by and delivered in partnership with Exterion Media, Abellio, Arriva London, Clear Channel UK, Go-Ahead London, Metroline, RATP Dev UK, Stagecoach, Wrightbus, Optare and Telent Technology Services.
Notes to editors
About the artists
About the Year of the Bus
About Art on the Underground