With the excellent news that Bus-Tops had won a coveted Artists Taking The Lead commission for the Cultural Olympiad, we felt compelled to hear from Alfie Dennen, who forms the other half of the duo with artist Paula Le Dieu, bringing to life this roof top art idea.
So. Why bus stops?
The roofs of London's bus stops have often been a place for artists to create bonkers interventions. Knonose's Psychedelic potato art, the heart shaped lawn turf, the little pots of plants growing! We're inspired by their work and agree that bus shelter roofs are an incredible place for art. They are one of the only places we have left that isn't advertising at us, and the placement provides such a perfect way to joyfully interrupt our commute.
Who can take part in the project? And how?
Absolutely anyone. Anywhere. The work will be created using online tools we will provide, and you can even start from existing work you have. The thing about it is that you have like, 40 canvases right? So people can create *narratives* that take people on a journey. It could be a text based piece, animation, processing, video. Artists can curate an entire exhibition of their work across all of London if they wanted to, or for just one Bus-Top.
Shouldn't the project be called Bus Stop Tops?
Hehe - well, we're nothing if not playful, and Bus Tops is just that.
Can you offer anything for single deck bus passengers?
We think that the canvases are a brilliant and compelling reason to take a double decker. Perhaps to go somewhere you've never been before. As Londoners we think we go from A to B on the bus, but actually we don't, we go from A to Z and we miss out everything in-between. London is a city of secret histories and stories, and we think that the Bus-Tops will give people delight in exploring the hidden all around us. People will also be able to access absolutely all of the work via web and via mobile, so accessibility will be very open.
What would you do with a Routemaster bus of your own?
Great question! We would get Londoners to paint it and design it and then take people on special Bus-Top tours! Now that you mention, Boris: can we borrow a routemaster for a couple of years please?
Who / what would be your ultimate Bus-Tops fantasy display?
Well, my current ultimate project for the canvases is something we're calling 'Borough Pong'. Imagine this: a 2 day pong tournament played in every London borough. Borough champions then compete against each other for the ultimate title of Pong Master London. EPIC WIN!
What is your favourite bus route?
I really love the 243. It takes you from Wood Green all the way to Waterloo. It traverses 6 London Boroughs! I always think of the 243 route as being a perfect one to install 6 canvases along, giving arists the chance to create narratives for a whole journey.
What games would you play with Bus-Tops?
See above :D Also, lots and lots of treasure hunt/ARG style games. We're intending to work really closely with the gaming community of people like Six To Start, Hide and Seek and the Go Game.
What can you imagine Londonist doing with Bus-Tops?
Wow, so much! A game of hide and seek! A guide to hidden London! There is no roof!
Which artist (from past, present or future) would be ideal to contribute to Bus-Tops?
Image by Matthew Andrews