Public transport in London provides millions of connections to millions of people every day. For some it is purely a means of travel; getting to work, school, an appointment or as a link to another mode of transport. For others public transport is a means by which they gain a sense of independence, social freedom or even offers them the possibility of exploration. Why do we journey, what journeys do we make and how do we make these journeys are all questions which I explored with young people during ‘Bus Shelters’; a youth engagement project, part of the national Cultural Olympiad programme Stories of the World.
Between February 2010 and March 2011 I worked with five varied and amazing groups of young people from across London. Each group worked with an artist to develop a creative outcome that reflected their interests, opinions and ideals regarding journeys. Each outcome was then displayed in a bus shelter local to the community of each group. (You can have a look at their work at http://www.ltmuseum.co.uk/storiesoftheworld)
One of the most amazing outcomes of the project was to see the vastly different ways that each group of young people interpreted the same theme. Some groups explored their own physical and everyday journeys, looking at the ways they travel and the places and people they encounter along the way. Others undertook a more symbolic approach, seeing journeys as metaphor for their growth as young people, exploring the notion of the many and different pathways they must travel in order to reach adulthood.
Working on the project has given me a great insight into London’s dynamic youth culture – and particularly, by virtue of representing being the London Transport Museum(!), a unique and important glimpse into the way young people perceive travel and the journeys they make in what is arguably undoubtedly one of the greatest cities in the world!
Whilst I am sad that the Bus Shelters project has come to an end I am excited about taking my experiences forward into a brand new programme of activities. Over the coming year I will be working with more young people to develop new methods and ways of working that incorporate their interests, opinions, insights and creativity into the museum’s everyday working practices. (If this was twitter and I could hash tag here I think it would be appropriate to say #toomuchfun).