"Cheap at twice the price": Artist takes Routemaster bus to streets of Aberdeen as festival kicks off

By Ben Miller | 28 April 2016

Turner Prize winners, a brightly-coloured bus and innovative local artists combine for a five-day festival

A photo of male artist Doug Fishbone steering a ship
Doug Fishbone, seen here on his Thames River Booze Cruise in 2013, is about to tour Aberdeen as part of the city's Look Again Festival© Courtesy LAF
With a backdrop of a glittering, mirrored pavilion, a Brutalist Playground of interactive sculptures made by Turner Prize winners Assemble and a rumination on the Granite Mile made by ten artists working as a conceptual estate agency, Aberdeen’s Look Again festival lives up to its name this year. But perhaps the most unusual sight will be the work of American artist Doug Fishbone (the one who made the golf courses).

Departing twice daily from the Seventeen arts centre on Belmont Street, Fishbone’s unorthodox tours of the city are influenced by stand-up comedy and going in search of hidden treasures. “I have done similar tours in the past,” reflects the satirist. “A series of riverboat cruises on the Thames, for the Mayor of London’s Thames Festival in 2013, were a huge hit and generated a good deal of interest.

“This will be leading an unusual series of bus tours of Aberdeen. We will be cruising around the city in an original 1966 London Routemaster bus, taking an alternative - some might say dubious - look at the city's history and tourist attractions.”

A photo of a red double decker bus
The Boomin' Bus Tour is ready to go© Courtesy LAF
This is no lucrative gloss-over. “It’s part stand-up, part curious ramblings – Aberdeen as you've never seen it before. It’s gonna be a lot of fun. It’s free, and cheap at twice the price.”

Assemble also pride themselves on local knowledge: a key aspect of their surprise Turner Prize win saw the 15-piece collective help people improve and extend their new or endangered homes in artistic ways. For Look Again, their playground, originally commissioned by the Royal Institute of British Architects, will be seen outside of London for the first time when it appears at Peacock Visual Arts.

"There are countless examples of peculiar, forward-thinking and often surreal post-war playgrounds built throughout the UK,” says the group’s Joe Halligan. “Touring the Brutalist Playground has allowed us the unique opportunity to explore more of these structures. We are very pleased to have been able to add to the collection of ‘Brutalist Play’ pieces in the exhibition, adding a new piece from each host city.”

A photo of two artists taking part in the Look Again Festival in Aberdeen
Fishbone and Look Again Festival Director Sally Reaper© Courtesy LAF
Gabrielle Reith, of property-experts-with-a-twist Unreal Estate, says the festival has dynamism, creating a buzz among Aberdeen’s art and design community. “As a local artist it’s imperative that the city creates opportunities for established and budding talent to showcase their work, share ideas and contacts and build their portfolios,” she thinks.

“It’s also been rewarding to work alongside city schools to create our Outreach Project where children have used viewfinders to design their own buildings on a 3-D street. We hope to engender a real sense of pride for our city by drawing attention to Union Street’s granite heritage and grand architecture.”

Elsewhere, an exhibition curated at Woodend Barn allows Hilary Nicoll to explore a room in her father’s house that switched from workspace to retreat as he developed Alzheimer’s. Nicoll’s father was an architect who designed the original brutalist playground inspiring Assemble. In Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design, these artists should help Look Again add to the 21,000 fans it entertained and inspired last time around.

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A photo of numerous artists taking part in the Look Again Festival in Aberdeen
Sally Reaper with some of the artists taking part in this year's festival© Courtesy LAF
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