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

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

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

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk / Trainee Application Support Analyst - Hampshire

£25000 per annum + pension, 25 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A relative of dead Bangladeshi blogger Washiqur Rahman reacts after seeing his body at Dhaka Medical College in Dhaka on March 30,  

Atheists are being hacked to death in Bangladesh, and soon there will be none left

Rory Fenton
9.4 million people watched the first of the three-way debates at the last election. The audience for the one on Thursday is likely to be far lower.  

David Cameron needs to learn some new tricks – and fast

Steve Richards
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor