Hayley Newman is a London based artist working with performance, sound, video, text and photography. She completed a practice-based PhD doctoral degree at the University of Leeds in 2001. Her solo exhibitions include ‘The Daily Hayley’ at Matt’s Gallery (London), IKON Gallery (Birmingham) and the Centre d’arte Contemporian (Geneva).
She is known for her performances and events that often have built within them an internal logic, idea or formula. Frequently, they map seemingly humorous, odd or surreal situations onto everyday life, with the intention of calling into question our own understanding of the environment and world we live in.
Hayley Newman is one of the country's most consistently inventive artists, making performances in public spaces that cast a humorous, often surreal light on everyday life.
In her latest project, commissioned by Milton Keynes Gallery, Hayley will be taking an intercontinental bus around the Milton Keynes' grid system with as many public volunteer passengers on board, until it runs out of petrol.
So why is she doing it? Hayley explains: "‘A few years ago I was asked to do a commission for a Cathedral. While thinking about what I might do I heard a story about a guru called Gurdjieff who, while out driving with friends, passed a petrol station without filling-up and carried on driving until the car ran out of petrol. This experience (amongst many others) formed the basis of some of his teachings. I was interested in this and I proposed a coach journey driving in a straight line until the coach ran out of petrol (probably ending up in Spain or somewhere on mainland Europe.) This was not possible (too complicated), so the project was shelved.
"I still wanted to do it and, when MK G invited me make a work as part of a performance and event programme, I remembered the coach piece. I thought it would be appropriate for Milton Keynes with its road grid and its mobile, car-oriented culture. At its simplest, it is a funny paradox; an intercontinental coach that doesn’t leave the town. I suppose I want the bus journey to activate discussion which may or may not be specific to Milton Keynes. I have already heard that there are all sorts of problems with bus networks, and generally getting around Milton Keynes if you don’t have a car. This may be one point for discussion; alternatively the event may bring about different debates."
Hayley says she is concerned about the environment and confirms that she doesn’t own a car herself. She adds that MKVH (Milton Keynes Vertical Horizontal) is a piece that is supposed to have an open ended narrative, by which she means it can be interpreted in many ways, one of which might be as a political statement about the ways we are using up precious resources on this planet. The piece invites us to consider in the widest sense, going from full to empty, the journey of life and the unknown end.
Hop on - but not off!
The bus will depart from Milton Keynes Gallery at 21:30 on Thursday 30 March. Journey time is likely to last in the region of 38 - 40 hours, finishing sometime on the morning of Saturday 1 April… but of course, precisely where the journey will finish and at what time it will end aren't known!
Passengers will be relieved to learn that there is a toilet onboard the bus and they will be offered food and drink on the journey. However, a pillow and blanket might be useful and if the sights of Milton Keynes prove too much, then a good book might also be a good idea.
The bus will stop at eight hourly intervals to allow for a change of driver, however, the passengers MUST stay on board for the duration of the entire journey.
If you fancy joining Hayley on her journey, you will need to telephone MK Gallery to book your seat on 01908 676 900.