As the age-old cliché goes: you wait for ages and then 2 come along at once. But in this case it’s 41. And with another 19 due along before Christmas, there’s no excuse for any Londoner to miss out on the fantastic free bus art exhibition, live in the streets, parks and public spaces of the capital until early in the New Year.
Working in partnership with Wild in Art, an organisation dedicated to mass participation public art events, Transport for London have invited well-known and aspiring artists to design unique bus sculptures to highlight the important role that buses play in our lives, both here in London and in the rest of the UK.
One sunny Friday morning, we followed part of the City of Westminster trail, which starts outside the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden and heads through Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus, before winding down through Whitehall and skirting outside the edges of St. James’ Park.
It was a strong start to the trail with the girls having a scribble of their own on the chalk boards of Accessibus, a contribution by UCL which invites the public to share their views on bus accessibility. Leaving a trail of chalk-dust behind us, we headed past the touchy-feely Queen’s Conductor (Busby), down Long Acre and towards an unusually quiet Leicester Square, where we spent far too long counting the pop-art style guards on Rock n Royal.
With every turn taken, the anticipation of spotting the next bus grew, and it was rewarding that so many of the buses featured were interactive, or large and colourful enough for the girls to spot for themselves. And with trails currently proving a popular way to get families exploring the streets of London, we even managed a bit of cross-trail contamination, adding a rather fine-looking gold Paddington Bear to our check-list. When bus-spotting fatigue finally took hold, we took a pleasant detour, finishing up in St. James’s Park, one of London’s finest parks for spotting pelicans, getting close to ducks, and swinging on swings that boast views of Buckingham Palace.
However much you choose to do, it’s a great opportunity to get out and about. And with the festive season almost upon us, it’s the perfect activity for Londoners that are hanging around in the capital, making the most of the empty streets and more civilised public transport.
There are 2 other London bus sculpture trails to follow, Around the river, taking in the banks of the Thames and historic London, and Around Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, each with their own unique distractions if the kids grow tired.
In fact, depending on how old your children are, this much I believe to be true: they will want to climb on them (which they can’t), they will want to touch them (which they can), you’ll all want to take lots of photos and you’ll deserve to treat yourselves to a taxi home if you make it all the way to the end!
The Year of the Bus sculpture trail, until early January 2015, free.
Following the display, the works will be auctioned to raise money for Kids Company, Transaid and the London Transport Museum.