We've all been taken for a ride in a Munch minicab

Share
Related Topics

Those nice people at the Tate galleries have launched a boat service that ferries art lovers, in comfort and style, along the Thames from Tate Britain to Tate Modern. The journey starts from the new Millbank pier, whizzes you along to the London Eye, pausing long enough for you to marvel at the length of the queue, then zooms to the sister gallery beside the Millennium Bridge. The whole experience takes 18 minutes, and should be very pleasant except for one random factor.

The boat is designed by Damien Hirst.

It's a catamaran, the exterior paintwork and interior furnishings of which have been created by the shaven-headed art terrorist. So it doesn't resemble a giant shark suspended in embalming fluid - it looks like a boat and does actually move. There's a bar on board but it is, I'm told, a real bar featuring alcoholic drinks - not one of Hirst's spooky medicine cabinets, offering only amoxycillin tablets and haemorrhoid cream.

But does the Hirst boat have gigantic ashtrays full of cigarette butts? Are there blue, humming fly-zappers in the bathroom? Glass vitrines containing upside-down office furniture on the poop deck? Surely the great conceptualist has given us something that expresses the futility of human existence to gaze at, as we cruise along the Thames?

Hirst isn't, of course, the first artist to be asked to design a piece of public transport. Far from it. It's a tradition that goes back a long way...

The J M W Turner Blatant Symbolism Trip: Commissioned by Sailing Ship Appreciation Society. Frankly sentimental journey on board beautiful but elderly three-masted schooner, being towed at sunset to breaker's yard on Isle of Dogs by blackened tugs, symbolising death of belle époque elegance and rise of new age of stark, philistine utilitarianism. Every Friday from Tower Bridge. Tickets £8.50. Concessions for weepingly nostalgic over-sixties.

The Pablo Picasso Hi-Speed Inter-Rail: Commissioned by avant-garde manager at British Rail in 1930s. Striking train designed on Cubist principles. Carriages square-shaped instead of rectangular. Windows confined to one side. All available seating occupied by weeping women, harlequins, gypsies and neighing horses.

Little room for paying customers. Train didn't repay its investment and was quietly dropped.

The Van Gogh Tourist Omnibus: A charming day out for all the family in an open-top charabanc. Painted by the popular Vincent Van G, the exterior depicts a starry night sky. Inside, the seating is simple rustic chairs with authentic woven-rush seats, with a typical peasant pipe thoughtfully provided on each one. Free audiotape available, on which VVG rants eloquently, but increasingly wildly, about his lust for life, passion for art, disappointment in love, etc. Tickets £20, bus starts from Trafalgar Square. Special facilities for the hard of hearing.

The Edvard Munch Minicab: Role-playing experience, commissioned by Metropolitan Police, to warn people to travel only by black taxis. Unsuspecting punter hires minicab in Soho to go to Wimbledon, only to find self in reeking interior, being harangued by confused, halitotic racist with no sense of direction, as cab heads for Finsbury Park. Altercation with driver follows. Passenger ends up running through streets of north London, clutching face in hands and screaming.

The Edward Hopper Night Bus: Commissioned by mayor of Washington, DC in 1980s, after discovery that most American civil servants spend their evenings sitting in lonesome diners nursing shots of bourbon and staring into space, divorced from human contact, isolated from society, aware only of the aching void at the heart of all interpersonal transactions... so he sent a night bus to go round all the bars, throw everyone out and take them home to bed.

The Salvador Dali Pogo Stick: Commissioned in fit of Sixties craziness, by Central Art Committee, Barcelona, to encourage citizens to bounce around on jolly-seeming, healthy, pollution-free mode of transport. Scheme never worked because of intrinsic oddness of pogo sticks themselves - they tended to melt, or buckle, or turn into crucifixes, or try to eat or have sex with passenger in annoyingly surreal fashion.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Solutions Architect - Permanent - London - £70k DOE

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

General Cover Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: Great opportunities for Cover...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: QTS Maths Teachers needed for...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: QTS Maths Teachers needed for...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

Amanda Hess
Armed RCMP officers approach Centre Block on Parliament Hilll  

Ottawa shooting: A shock attack in a peaceful nation

Jeffrey Simpson
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink