Bus for TV

By: Amie Hickland , Video by: Laura Grace

A New South Wales exhibition will showcase the changing world through the eyes of bus drivers

Bus for TV
Ray Dunn (video) and Michael Reinhart (pictured above) were two of the drivers featured in the Bus TV exhibition

When Sydney artist Laura Grace began catching the bus again after years spent driving to and from work, it gave the student an idea.

After returning to Sydney College of the Arts to complete her Masters in Studio Art – majoring in photo media - Grace decided the drivers would be the focus of her next exhibition.

Bus TV is an exhibition which focuses on five Sydney bus drivers, who give their perspective on how the world has changed.

"Bus drivers provide an essential city service at all hours of the day, in all weather, day in day out," says Grace.

"This exhibition is about the city’s unsung driving force and the city and community that they serve.

"The videos look into the daily life of a driver, their motivations, the passengers they encounter and the view of the world they get from the driver’s seat.

 "I am drawn to stories about the everyday and the overlooked, about people who are exceptional for being unexceptional," she says.

Grace was inspired by her early connection to buses which comes from the daily trips to and from school as a teenager.

"For me the bus driver was a first introduction to the real world beyond your parents, family and teachers," she says.

"I remember singing bus drivers, drivers who gave running commentaries, drivers who must have been deafened by bus loads of squealing adolescents."

Grace says buses are a communal space where people from all walks of life are brought together.

"Over the years I have seen passengers at their best and worst and I have always wondered what the bus drivers who witness this meeting of worlds, over time, make of humanity as a consequence of their job," she says.

Grace spent about one hour filming with each of the five drivers who feature in the show.

"I passed quite a few hours at depots around Sydney filming time lapses, including a few early mornings to make the most of the big morning peak hour movements in the yards," she says.

"I learnt a lot from the drivers I interviewed and it was difficult to decide what stories of theirs to highlight.

"Even though I worked with an editor, scripting and editing took more time than the filming."

Laura says the other time consuming part of the project involves the Sydney Bus Museum.

"They agreed to loan me some old bus seats which I have been using as stands for the monitors that display the videos in the exhibition," she says.

"Quite a bit of time and elbow grease went into making these a little more presentable for the occasion."

Laura says the drivers who are showcased in the films were very generous with their time and were really open to questions.

"I think they were a little surprised that I might be interested in finding out more about them," she says.

"I got the feeling that they weren’t often asked by members of the public for their perspective.

"One thing that surprised me was how much they loved driving and how beautiful they found the city - even after more than 20 years of city traffic."

Laura says it would be great if the people who saw the exhibition or heard about it thought twice not only about the real live person behind the wheel but also about the many other people who keep our cities running. 

"As some of the drivers mention in the show, the prevalence of smart technology is changing people’s behaviour on buses.

"The automated ticketing systems further reduce interactions between drivers and passenger."

The response to the exhibition has been good so far, particularly from people who work in the bus industry who have been interested and encouraging.

The exhibition is on at Chrissie Cotter Gallery, Camperdown, NSW, until Sunday July 25.

The gallery is open from 11 am to 4 pm, Thursday to Sunday. The show will reopen for the weekend of August 6 and 7. 

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