Do you can remember the saying, “when you ran for a bus?” Remember the conductors? They shouted just before the bus moved “Hold tight!”
The bus moved and many people would be holding on, swaying to and fro. The Walkie-Talkies is created by socially-engaged artist Michelle Baharier. She works with a number of community groups and based the series on a poem by David Morris called the Routemaster race. David was a disabled wheelchair user and unable to use the bus. Feeling excluded from London life, the work explores inclusion on public transport, and the effect on inclusion into ordinary life.
Baharier is currently collecting audio stories based around this experience of the route master, the London double-decker bus, and David’s poem, and turning them into collages.
These stories are from pensioners – many of whom many will now have acquired disabilities including the Golden Oldies, Southwark Irish Pensioners, and Southwark Pensioners. Many stories focus on the Number 1 bus which used to go from Penge to Woodgreen. Now it goes from Canada water to Tottenham Court Road, with the 176 taking part of its original route.
The collages track the absurd, the unfortunate, and the ordinariness of our bus journeys. On a route master bus, people would often travel just for fun and go sightseeing; however, buses were also needed to be used for work and necessity. Violence on buses is not uncommon, even in the days of conductors, there was the occasional violence and assault on buses.
The collages convey this range of experience, and the experience of differently abled people’s abilities to use public transport.
Works will be housed at the London Transport Museum in their raw and finished form. They will also be available on Disability Arts Online website for free and with download links so that you can listen on your smartphone while riding the bus. All aboard! Hold tight! Look forward seeing you on the bus ride.