The Miraculous Art Bus

Sumaya Hassan, BSc Economics

If you’ve ever been a fan of Ms. Frizzle and her Magical School Bus, chances are you have wondered what it would be like to relish an exclusive and educational ride in her colorful groovy bus.

Fortunately, you can!

The Muse Gallery situated on Portobello Road offers the delightful experience of riding a groovy vintage bus touring contemporary galleries of West London. The tour takes approximately 2 hours, and the journey is packed full with the smoothest tracks hosted by Portobello’s and world-renowned DJ Piers Thompson. The ride is an impressive drive through a historically timeless portal filled with sounds and colours.

The tour begins at the Muse Gallery itself, where works of Corinne Charton’s uncanny and curiously disjointed figures on paper are displayed, and those of Sam Hodge’s smooth wave-like patterns, almost like a thousand river veins on viscous plasma.

We then grooved our way surrounded by delightful music and the rocking of the vintage bus to the Serena Williams library, a cosy minimalist two floor Georgian gallery. Barka’s colourful works “From Salvador” were displayed, a cheery contrast to the chilly February day. They depicted scenes of travel, sensuality and quiet contemplation in warm and lively colours.

At SOAS, we love the renegade republics and free-spirited nations! How many of you knew that parts of Kensington had declared itself an independent republic? There is a relatively unknown and intriguing history involved at Freston Road. Historically, the road was inhabited by squatters who had moved into the derelict and empty houses during the 70s. The “Republic of Frestonia” ran as an independent body
until the mid 80s.

It attracted writers, artists, musicians and activists. They had adopted a motto, anthem and had collectively voted to be part of the European Economic community — talk about independent and well structured!

Currently the Frestonia Gallery is hosting the works of Luke Elwes, exhibiting a series of ethereal abstract canvases documenting his travel across the Ganges. The series ends where the Ganges meets the sea, where with watercolours he captures the quality of the light.

The bus drops off riders at the Design Museum and the Japan House, but I opted to stay and catch more of the educational art tour. We had seen the exclusive studios of AfterNyne, the international art magazine which has been publishing for 6 years and has had a London studio for 6 months. They featured the abstract works of Agnes Pezeu such as a grand, drizzling paint scene of a woman reclining, as well as a table showing how Agnes created her magnificent works and the creative processes behind it.

Agnes Pezeu, Reclining woman figure


“Is this a tiger?” one of the visitors had asked, to which the studio caretaker replied, “Yes, Agnes works with zoos, and annually when the animals require medical attention and are sedated, she packs up her tools and shows up at the zoo to create her outlines”.

To see such dedication and creativity poured into the creation of an art piece is baffling and astounding for an outsider from the arts like me.

The bus whisked us to Maddox Gallery afterwards, where an Andy Warhol piece was on display, as well as various other pieces, giving a snapshot from his elite lifestyle. This is a stark distinction from prior exhibitions.

Lastly, if you’re a fan of street art and graffiti, the Graffik Gallery hosts a plethora of exhibitions and has even hosted Banksy art in the past. It now hosts politically avant-garde artists like Rightfulrula (we had a good conversation on Brexit), Joy Miessi, Mia Giacone, Broke, and Blu Diamond.

I want to give a big shout-out to the friendly bus stewards and crew who made the bus journey full of fun and exciting.

Post Author: SOAS Spirit

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