Lexus recommends: Balancing bus sculpture

Remember the moment in the classic film The Italian Job, when the gold bullion-filled bus teeters on a cliff top? Well it’s just become art, recreated on a Bexhill rooftop in honour of the Olympics, writes Guy Bird.

The location is the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill. Perched precariously half-on and half-off the roof of this beautifully restored modernist seaside art space is a full sized model of a bus that intermittently tilts back and forth – looking for all the world like it’s about to fall and crash to the floor.

The installation’s name, “Hang On A Minute Lads, I’ve Got A Great Idea…” directly references the famous final line by Michael Caine in the 1969 British comedy crime caper The Italian Job.

Fans of the film will remember when the bus, full of his gang of robbers plus the gold they have stolen, swerves off the road and teeters over the edge of the Alpine pass.

The work is by acclaimed artist Richard Wilson,who regularly plays with perceptions of structure and space, and was commissioned as part of the Cultural Olympiad to celebrate the London 2012 Olympics. Financial support for the installation came from comedian Eddie Izzard.

Ruth Mackenzie, director of the Cultural Olympiad & London 2012 Festival, says: “It says everything about the world class ambition and innovation of the UK’s great artists and arts centres. And as well as being brilliant, it has a quirky humour that is Great as well as British”.

Richard Wilson added: “Producing this cinematic moment as a sculpture was not just about structural daring but more a metaphor about the absolute limits of anything, being engaging.”

“Being a red white and blue coach makes it a flag-waving work for the Olympics.”

But the word from the work’s chief sponsor is – unusually – the best, as Eddie Izzard quipped: 
“By the end of 2012 I would hope the word goes out from our country that not only do we run excellent world events, but also we balance coaches on the edges of buildings like no one else ever could.”

The tilting sculpture will stay up until October 1, while a series of related events take place at the De La Warr Pavilion through the summer, from a sold-out rooftop comedy set by Eddie Izzard this Sunday July 15th, to a talk by the artist Richard Wilson in September.

Indeed, the Grade I listed building (picture above without the sculpture) is well worth a visit at any time of year and whether taking in the artwork inside to appreciating the beautiful views from its balconies or rooftop terrace, it’s sure to be a day out with a difference.

About the author:
Guy Bird is a freelance writer and editor specialising in cars and design for the likes of CAR magazine, Wallpaper*, The Daily Express and Car Design News. He attends the world’s auto shows from Paris to Tokyo and has road-tested the vast majority of vehicles available in the UK over the last 18 years.

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