Over 100 years of motorised buses captured in 100 one-line poems

Art on the Underground, Transport for London’s (TfL’s) acclaimed public arts programme, last week unveiled 100 – a new artwork consisting of one hundred one-line poems inspired by London’s bus network. Two 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.


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