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'Bussing Out' interactive art exhibition opens at Theatre in the Mill


Bussing Out exhibition at Theatre in the Mill

A new exhibition at the University's of Bradford's Theatre in the Mill showcases the social policy known as 'bussing out' - the re dispersal of non-white children in the 1960s and 1970s.

Artist Shabina Aslam, senior producer at Theatre in the Mill, was among those directly affected by the policy - when she was seven, she was placed on a bus and moved out to a white-majority suburban school, where she and her brother were placed in the special needs department.

Now the memories of some of those affected by the the 'bussing out' scheme, have been collected as part of an interactive art installation.

This installation brings together oral history, creative non-fiction, 2D and 3D animation, binaural audio recording, set design and creative technology to animate a hidden history related to post-war migration, as you enter the bus, you step into the 1970s.

Theatre in the Mill located on the University of Bradford campus, began working with Shabina in 2020 on a multi-art form project that has become a historical archive for the area of Bradford.

In October, the theatre opened its doors to the public, showcasing two installations that have become a living archive about a piece of little-known regional and national history.

Bussing Out refers to an educational policy impacting South Asian, West Indian and African children who migrated to Britain in the 60s and 70s from former British colonies.

The story has been covered by The Guardian.

Artist and scholar Shabina combines her PhD research, recorded interviews and an immersive installation to tell this piece of lost history. “Bussing” became the colloquial term used for the policy, ‘The Education of Immigrant Circular 7/65’. This policy stated that no school should have more than 30% immigrants on roll, or they had to be dispersed to other schools.

As part of the research into Bussing in Bradford, Shabina collected twenty-one oral interviews of individuals who were dispersed to schools in the outer areas of Bradford in the 60s and 70s.

These interviews formed the basis of the verbatim script used to create the Bussing Out installation. In this large-scale installation, the story unfolds during a bus journey. Visitors will step on to a purpose-built set of the top floor of a 1970s bus and experience Bussing through binaural audio production and animation. The project skilfully uses new technologies to reconstruct events that happened in the past whilst creating an archive of oral histories for future generations. The events in the narrative are based on a range of characters and stories that the bussed children experienced.​​​​​​​

In addition, Shabina’s research into bussing is itself now an archive including three podcasts presenting further background stories and historical context. These can be found here on Theatre in the Mill’s website.
Bussing Out – Theatre In The Mill

The installation is free and now open to the public every Tuesday and Thursday at Gallery II, in the Chesham building on the University of Bradford campus. Alternatively, you can book a free guided tour via Theatre in the Mill’s website.