I've just about recovered from the Hell Bus deadline and journey to and from Glasgow. It was an extremely stressful, frenetic and expensive project but it was also incredible fun and pretty exhilarating to be working on a large-scale exhibition again, (the biggest, and definitely the most complicated I've ever done) after the non-year of 2020. I absolutely love a deadline. There's nothing like the fear of letting people down and making a prize tit of yourself to get you out of bed in the morning.
The response to the exhibition was amazing, which I'm sure had nothing to do with the fact I was sitting at the end of the bus grinning and prodding at visitors as they left. The enthusiasm of the response encouraged me as to the viability of properly touring the bus in the new year. (If you run an event that could host the bus in spring/summer 2022 get in touch!)
The Hell Bus was only possible thanks to the support and help of a lot of people who chipped in money, time, skills (and endured occasional misery) to make it happen.
Mark Donne and Massive Attack for prompting me to seriously consider making my Hell exhibition mobile after I'd spent years playing with the idea since Shangri-La Glastonbury commissioned the first iteration of the project in 2017, also thanks to Mark for helping secure funding after the initial event fell through.
Necessity.info for providing the funding to go full pelt and to the Centre for Knowledge Equity for throwing another massive chunk towards the project after I burned through the initial budget. Lakes International Comic Festival for allowing me to merge my commission for their '10 Years to Save the World' project with the bus, and being so understanding about my numerous fuck-ups. And to everyone who backed my last minute crowdfunder and waited for ages to get their rewards (which have almost all been sent now!)
Justin Carroll for finding the bus to begin with and having enough confidence that he could legally drive it, even though he couldn't, that it gave me the confidence to buy the bastard thing. He then dealt with a ton of very dull and labyrinthine DVLA admin and insurance ballache which I'm super grateful for, and sorted me out with a legit Shell oil drum! Also to Ian Gunn who sold me the bus and was super helpful with the whole process (considering how much of a bus noob I was/am) and he even very generously drove it free-of-charge to get its MOT and then from Wales to London. A proper gent.
As regards driving the thing, I literally could not have got the bus to and from Glasgow without Em Puddy, my HGV driver extraordinaire who endured a 20 hour hell ride drive to Glasgow, and a couple of mildly shorter journeys after that, all with the anti-assistance of my sleep-deprived and haphazard co-piloting. Nailed the drive despite my worst efforts!
I'd also like to thank my amazing fellow tenants/neighbours at #LeegateShoppingCentre for being so patient and supportive of this project, for putting up with me parking a giant bus in the staff car park and turning one corner of it into a building site for a month.
Tim Hunkin aka the incredible Novelty Automation for making the collapsible brackets so the Hell sign can be folded down for driving.
@emb0wdn and Charl Schofield for being the first people to turn up and chip away at what was then just a grubby old bus. And Inês da Silva for her help keeping the Museum open while I was working on the bus and for various help around the place.
Ayesha Fuentes, Zoë Grisedale-Sherry, @fordyaa, Hunter Scøtt and Holly Coyle for helping me vinyl wrap the left hand side of the bus in time for its debut on Channel 4. Also I should thank Joe Lycett and everyone at Rumpus Media for getting me and the bus involved in their excellent documentary.
Jack Kelly and Ethan for help vinyl wrap the right hand side of the bus in record time and for leaving behind a falafel wrap in the car park that I ate like a happy dog.
Tristan Cochrane, Jesse Tadini-Rybolt and Austin Graff for their absolutely essential carpentry work that turned the thing from an old school bus into an exhibition space with wheels. I can't thank them enough.
Kestra Laurent for some serious interior vinyling help that turned the bus from garden shed to corporate hell suite in a matter of days. And to Truus Jansen who threw herself into learning a new power tool and then threw some walls up.
Massive thanks to Clemency Pearce for very kindly offering to upholster the remaining bus seats into yellow pleather corporate monstrosities. The seats got so many compliments I was bordering on jealous.
And to Hannah Logic and Datkid for making and installing curtains inside the bus so the vinyl wrap would still be visible at night. And Mark Tolson for designing some vector flames I could cut using the vinyl cutter.
Massive thanks to my various hosts in Glasgow.
To Gehan Macleod, David and everyone at GalGael for making me feel so welcome, feeding me, and helping fend off the cops every day I was there. An incredible place and community and I am honoured to have been a small part of their Govan Free State. (If you haven't seen the documentary The Birdman of Pollock which shows the origins of GalGael please check it out on youtube)
Rory, Alice and Mike at Glasgow School of Art Students Association for inviting and arranging for the bus to be hosted outside the Glasgow School of Art, to the new head of my old course Roddy Hunter for his help, particularly in negotiating the art school bureaucracy, and also to my old tutor Ross Sinclair.
Also thanks to Alex Chandler and his partner Kerri for putting me up while I was in Ibrox, and my old bandmate Joel Stone for putting me up in Cowcaddens. It would have been a cold fortnight on the bus otherwise!
Danny McConnell for some last minute skin-saving help putting the bus together the night before it opened. Weronika Reps and Kerri Gallacher for helping bash the Lego together. Michelle Tylicki and Matt Bonner for helping me straighten the place out once it opened and thanks also to Michelle for getting the press release out there.
And of course to my trusty and long-suffering assistant, David Jones for all his work on the project and for putting up with my incomprehensible requests, bizarre work patterns and brain-fried tantrums.
I'm incredibly grateful and in awe of just how lucky I am that I'm able to bite off much more than I can chew with a project like this and yet have so many talented and kind people appear to help me digest it. If you helped in any way, chipped in quids or backed the crowdfunder, thank you so much.
I brought the Hell Bus down to Shell HQ today with Joe Lycett. Parked it outside for almost an hour while the staff inside went into a self-imposed lockdown. The bus was being filmed for a new documentary Joe is making about Shell's greenwashing PR, which will be out later this month. More details when I have them!
The bus will be going to Glasgow for COP26 at the end of the month, and the exhibition inside is still under construction. I'm posting regular updates of my DIY nightmares over on my Instagram story.