When you ride a Brighton and Hove bus, you don’t usually expect to be made into a work of art. But this month, the transport company has teamed up with local artist Lou Theodore for their artist in residency project. Lou rides the buses every day with her art supplies and sketches unsuspecting commuters, capturing the beauty of the everyday in her drawings. The pictures then go on the Brighton and Hove Buses Instagram page, and if commuters spot themselves in a sketch, they can win free travel.
Carole Richmond, Marketing Manager for B&H Buses, said although bus companies in other towns have run writer’s residency projects in the past, this is possibly the first residency of its kind. The project started at the beginning of the month and will conclude on January 30.
Ms Richmond said: “This is a project all about celebrating. This is the power of bus, riding the bus is a community activity that’s not adding on to people’s lives; it’s how you live your life in the community, it’s about being out and about with other local people and that’s what we do.”
Brighton and Hove Buses noticed self-taught artist Lou when she tagged one of her drawings, which have focused on commuters for quite some time, with #BrightonandHoveBus. Rebecca Gilruth, Marketing Assistant at B&H Buses, said the reaction to the residency on Instagram has been really positive. Everyone has been saying well done to Brighton and Hove Buses and telling them the residency is a great idea.
The reaction in the community has also been very strong, according to Ms Richmond. She said: “We just want people to be a part of the culture. We are a vital part of the culture here, and we know we are, but we can soften this a bit with things like the residencies.”
Starting this week, Brighton and Hove Buses are going to have a knitter in residence as well. Knitting enthusiast Nena aims to create a woolen bus-sized picture of the West Pier, which will be completed in squares that she will knit on the bus. Nena has also completed a knitted bus wrap, and a bus jumper in the past.
Ms Richmond, who came up with the idea because she enjoys embroidering on the train, said: “The minute we talk about the knitting residency, everyone goes ‘oh, that’s very Brighton’ and it really is a part of what we’re all about. It’s about working with the spontaneous art and creativity of the people on our buses, and then trying to spread the word.”
After the knitted West Pier is complete, Brighton and Hove Buses will likely host more residency projects. “Regarding future residencies, I’ve got a very open mind,” said Ms Richmond. “I think making would be more visual than putting on a writer residency, so we would explore other visual arts.
“Because we have started doing the artistic things like the music bus, a lot of artists are now coming to us with ideas. If anybody has an idea, we might not be able to make it happen, but we would love to hear it.”