Liverpool Biennial has partnered with Arriva to launch a major new three-year commission – through which three Liverpool double-decker buses are being transformed into moving works of art.

The first of the iconic buses hits the road this week. Designed by Year 7 pupils from Childwall Sports & Science Academy, together with artists and designers Hato, the bus features coded messages from outer space for the future of Liverpool, to be interpreted by its citizens.

READ our Featured Artists piece on Hato written by Patrick Kirk-Smith HERE

This ‘space bus’ pays homage to messages taken on board NASA’s Voyager spacecraft in 1977, which contained sound and images depicting life on Earth.

Hato, a design practise based between London and Hong Kong, work with schools, institutions and community groups, among others, to develop creative experiences. They have previously worked with pupils from Childwall, as part of a Liverpool Biennial project in 2015. This project also saw the children create Dazzle Island, a permanent new artwork for their playground.

The other two buses are being designed by Portuguese artist Ana Jotta and Liverpool-based artist Frances Disley.

All three buses will be on the road throughout the Liverpool Biennial 2016 festival of contemporary art, running from 9 July until 16 October, and beyond. They will travel on different routes around North and South Liverpool and the Wirral.

Sally Tallant, Director of Liverpool Biennial, said: “We are delighted to partner with Arriva on such a significant project for Liverpool. After the success of Sir Peter Blake’s commission for the Mersey Ferry, this is an excellent opportunity for artists to collaborate with transport providers and take art to the streets, making connections across the city.”

Mark Bosworth, Marketing Director of Arriva North West said: “Liverpool Biennial is a key part of the city’s vibrant cultural programme and what really sets it apart are the varied locations it uses. We are really excited about the transformation of three of our buses into artworks. Their versatility is in their mobility and this will enable so many more people in the city to connect with the Biennial, while experiencing the many benefits of public transport”.

Peter Ward, Director of SMSC and CPD said: “We’re delighted to be working with Liverpool Biennial and Hato on this project – the children have absolutely loved it. Having first worked with them as part of the Dazzle Island project in 2015, it has been great to revisit this experience. Not only has it been a chance for the children’s imaginative, creative and artistic skills to run wild, they will also be able to spot their creation on the roads around the city.”

Children are set to play a large part in this year’s Biennial festival. In addition to the Arriva bus project, local children are taking part in a brand new production by artist Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, inspired by the Betty Boop animation A Song For A Day (1936) and Bertolt Brecht’s The Threepenny Opera (1928).

Liverpool Biennial takes place from 9 July to 16 October 2016. For more information, visit

Hato and Childwall Sports & Science Academy, Hello Future Me, 2016. Commissioned by Liverpool Biennial in partnership with Arriva. Photo: Gareth Jones
Hato and Childwall Sports & Science Academy, Hello Future Me, 2016. Commissioned by Liverpool Biennial in partnership with Arriva. Photo: Gareth Jones