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Rolling out the full education programme for the biggest contemporary art festival in the UK

Liverpool Biennial
Space Bus

Liverpool Biennial
June 2016

The Story

As the largest international contemporary art festival in the UK, Liverpool Biennial returned for its ninth edition showcasing creative projects across the city.

Hato was one of the 44 artists/studios commissioned to develop public, community-based artwork, drawing inspiration from Liverpool’s past, present and future.

We re-initiated our relationship with local pupils from Childwall Sports & Science Academy to transform an Arriva double-decker bus into a functioning artwork via a series of engaging workshops. To further complement the Biennial, a digital online resource and an exhibition publication were also created to provoke local childrens interaction with the Biennial.

The Brief

We were invited to work on the overall education programme for the Biennial, which includes a public art commission, a digital education resource and a guidebook for children.

Responding the “Children’s Episode” and “Monuments from the Future and Flashback“ themes, we were commissioned to design a double-decker bus with Year 7 pupils at Childwall Sports & Science Academy.

A digital education resource and a children’s guide booklet were also commissioned as part of the “Children’s Biennial.”


The Solution

The “Monuments from the Future and Flashback” theme led us to imagine what Liverpool might look like in 20, 30 or 40 years. Intending to engage schoolchildren with graphic design through gameplay, we devised a series of workshops and a digital tool which allowed them to come up with their own alphabets and symbols. Drawing inspiration from Voyager Golden Record taken on board NASA’s spacecraft in 1977, the pupils designed their own coded messages which eventually became the blueprint for the design of the Hello Future Me Space Bus

“Hato provide a collaborative process that is truly collaborative, be it small scale or large scale projects. They provide fantastic opportunities for any client and are experts in their field. We’ve now worked with them several times on projects in line with the national educational curriculum and have been truly impressed with their creativity and fun, building new innovative tools with a real impact and legacy.”

Polly Brannan
Education Curator
Liverpool Biennial


The visual language was extended to the digital education resource, which served as an online portal to all things education related to the biennial. As well as hosting a collection of over 20 national curriculum based activities developed by us that can be used by school nation-wide.

For the children’s guide, we wrote a story “Banjo and the Portal Adventures” with the education curator Polly Brannan, inspired by people and events that are part of the Biennial. We commissioned illustrators Charlotte Mei and Charlene Man for drawings.

“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.”

Peter Ward
Director of SMSC and CPD

The Outcome

The workshops have given young children the tools to play, collaborate and express their ideas through design and their resulting artwork on the Space Bus will be seen on the side of Liverpool’s route 79 bus for the next three years.