A self-appointed guide from Barcelona, a Chinese-only tour and ley lines. Artist Bill Aitchison talks to Helen Fripp about his Tour of all Tours.
Bill Aitchison’s Tour of all Tours has taken him across the globe, studying the diversity of tours on offer, from China to Croatia to Germany. The latest will take place in the city of Bath, commissioned by the Edge Arts.
Bill’s inspiration came from an artists’ residency in Dubrovnik. He realised that there were so many tours going on in the city, and that each of them projected the city in a slightly different way.
Subsequent research led him to create the Tour of all Tours, which he has now taken to China, Stuttgart, and various locations across the UK.
But what does it all mean? Bill is beginning to see a pattern emerging from all these tours. There is often a clash between what is being asked from on high, how they want to project the city, to what the tours put across, and then what the city is really like today.
Some of it is authentic, and some less so. There are huge expectations when you go on holiday, and to a certain extent, the tourist industry is under pressure to deliver these expectations. Conveying a sense of history, whilst trying to maintain a certain authenticity isn’t always possible.
Bill tells us, “Local people will be really interested to see how their city is projected. These tours are almost like forbidden fruit for locals – it’s unlikely the majority of locals have been on them. It’s also interesting to see how tourism can sometimes create conflict – although it brings money and fame to the city, not everybody benefits from these crowds of tourists.
I’ll take a similar route a similar route to many of the tours, but I won’t be talking about the landmarks in the same way. It’s not a review of the tours either, more I’ll be telling people about the different viewpoints of the city these tours provide, about the many different ways that their city is perceived.”