Part of the inaugural Kensington + Chelsea Festival 21 June – 31 August
Kensington + Chelsea Art Week (KCAW) will launch the inaugural Kensington + Chelsea Festival in West London as part of the summer-long festival season of arts experiences in venues and unusual spaces, putting culture at the heart of pandemic recovery.
Starting in June, Art Week’s eleven days will once again refocus our attention on the exceptional cultural offering in this part of West London. Like never before, a diverse programme of Public Art installations, exhibits, murals, walking tours, events and talks taking place. The festival will celebrate and promote Kensington and Chelsea as a cultural hotspot, showcasing an extraordinary cross section of art and culture throughout the Royal Borough.
Curatorial Theme: REIMAGINE
The theme reflects KCAW’s mission of creating public spaces for conversation and exchange; rethinking the purpose and function of public spaces through Art – from places to pass through to places to dwell, play, dream. Encounters with art help us all to re-imagine what is possible in our own lives; and creativity involves a daily re-imagination of what is possible.
“We will all need to re-imagine the shape of our lives as we seek to re-establish them post- pandemic. But we also must address urgent issues including the climate emergency, reimagining the impact of the Anthropocene, as well as address social and racial justice issues. Asking the questions: what if we had made different choices as species or society? what if we make different choices now? what might life be like if we don't?" comments Vestalia Chilton, founding director of KCAW.
Highlights include work by Zak Ové (pictured) LR Vandy, Anthony Garratt, Amy Jackson, Lauren Baker (pictured), Rand Abdul Jabbar, the artist duo Baker and Borowski (pictured) and Yan Skates (pictured) presenting a diverse but thoughtful works reflecting on the difficulties of the last year but also refocusing the recovery through reimagining a new normal way of life.
Zak Ové commented: “I’m fascinated by ideas around time travel, the spread of diaspora and the positive effects of colliding cultures. My sculpture highlights my belief in the power or play embodied in masquerade, to liberate a sense of self and provide an alternate or evolving creative space both personal and communal.
‘Autonomous Morris’ soaks up contemporary oral history and information, recording and storing as a ‘never forgetterer’.
Since 2018, over 450,000 visitors have enjoyed the impactful installations and incredible murals displayed thoughtfully across Kensington and Chelsea. Last year, and despite the Pandemic, over 200 events were held during the Art Week with 120+ venues taking part - the biggest KCAW to date! This year will be even bigger.
'All your life you were waiting for this moment to arise' in Chelsea
Lauren Baker’s Poetic Light Typography installations will be displayed in unexpected locations across Chelsea, from King’s Road to Sloane Street, inspiring passers-by to contemplate life, joy and existence, taking inspiration from notable local icons such as Vivienne Westwood, The Beatles and Oscar Wilde.
Lauren Baker’s 'Do You Want to Change The World With Me?’ will be installed in Duke of York Square, inspired by Vivienne Westwood's environmental campaign.
“I am a huge fan of Vivienne Westwood as sustainability is key to my work. See my campaign to plant 8888 trees in the Amazon. I am at 7k trees now and intend to give this a push this summer to reach the goal.” – comments artist Lauren Baker.
The Beatles inspired 'All your life you were waiting for this moment ', will continue the trail along the King’s Road - a direct lyric from The Beatles ‘Blackbird’, it resonated with Baker’s passion for the book that changed her life 'The Power Of Now’. Oscar Wilde inspired pieces will stand proudly on Sloane Street and Pavilion Road, celebrating this literary giant and notable Chelsea local.
One of the main highlights is a summer garden rewilding installation by artists Baker & Borowski on Warwick Road, opposite Earl’s Court Underground station. Part of KCAW Art Trail and Underbelly’s London Wonderground activities on ‘former site of the Earls Court 2 Exhibition Centre’, this artist takeover is inspired by the eighteenth-century concept of the Pleasure Gardens.
Originally, the Pleasure Gardens would have been laid out as formal gardens, with shrubberies and miniature waterways, and dedicated buildings for performances and for eating, they were places to see the latest in art and architecture and some even becoming the first public art galleries in Britain. The artist duo hopes to inspire and encourage people to connect with nature, rewilding the landscape and introducing a diversity of colours and plant-life into the urban environment.
Rewilding + Family Friendly
Locally-sourced flowers, ecology and sustainability are at the heart of the family friendly installation. The artists invite you to step into a kaleidoscope of colours and flowers: Bees and butterflies, beautiful chrysanthemums, red hot pokers, lavender, cornflowers, tansy, allium and blousy poppies will burst will energy and liveness, creating a spirit of joy and celebration while sending beautiful scents into the air.
Inspired by the original gates at Cremorne Gardens in Chelsea, World’s End, the installation is a magical gateway into Baker & Borowski’s version of a summer wonderland. Despite the energy of the colours, the space will be tranquil, family friendly and safe for the community to relax and enjoy. The gardens in Chelsea were the largest and most spectacular of their type, and Baker & Barowski plan to reinvigorate these garden’s legacy, trees and wildflowers will be planted to give some shade. There was nothing quite like the London pleasure garden, and no modern equivalent has existed until now!
Across Nine Zones of Kensington and Chelsea
Each year KCAW launches an open call inviting all artists, creative organisations and curators to present pre-existing artworks for the Art Trail. The aim of the trail is to connect the borough through arts and culture; to display works by artists at different stages of their careers from all parts of the country and invite local talent to take part.
In January 2021, a shortlist compiled from over 100 proposals was reviewed, and a final selection was made by an Art Committee of leading names in visual arts, performance arts, literature and media: Tim Marlow OBE (Chief Executive and Director, Design Museum), Sara Blonstein (Blonstein Creative Production, The Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square), Michael Forbes (Artist), Marie Cudennec Carlisle (C&E and Co-Founder, Goldfinger Factory), Bolanle Tajudeen (Founder, Black Blossoms and Independent Curator), Tabish Khan (Art Critic; Visual Arts Editor, Londonist) , Councillor Gerard Hargreaves (Mayor of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea), Faisal Abdu'Allah (Artist), Kensington + Chelsea Foundation (KCAW21 Charity Partner), Sokari Douglas Camp (Artist).
Despite challenging circumstances, the team behind the KCAW are extremely excited to bring safe and sensational public art to a range of locations across West London. The Art Trail this year will take up residence at beautiful and iconic sites including: Napoleon Garden in Holland Park, Sloane Square, Duke of York Square, King’s Road Curve, Earl’s Court, Notting Hill Gate, North Kensington and Chelsea Physic Garden and displayed from June until early September.
“The trees in the garden are flossoming” “Lyla – aged 5
Artists Antony Garratt and Amy Jackson are both known for incredible public art installations and their plans for KCAW offer no exception. Combining genuine interest in their environments with innovative material use, their works are complex spectacles not to be missed. Garratt will present a new piece of public art called Wild Words and will invite the community to be part of it by submitting one line of poetry. All ages and backgrounds are invited, and the artist is especially keen to involve school aged children.
Alternative Art Trail
Amy Jackson will present an Alternative Art Trail – an interactive walk, ephemeral street art piece and a means of reconnecting with nature through mindfulness. Visitors will be invited to take a never-before-seen journey through Kensington and Chelsea and remember to pause and reflect in places where they may not have expected art to be.
Other Kensington + Chelsea Art Week highlights include:
Following the huge success of last year’s Art in Windows initiative, local artists and creative studios will transform store windows along the iconic King's Road and Fulham Road, through a series of exhibitions and imaginative interventions. Local creatives include acid-house DJ and artist Justin Robertson. As the high street continues to grapple with the repercussions of the pandemic, these retail spaces will become art exhibitions that engage passers-by in a celebration of community resilience post-pandemic.
The project supports the KCAW21 Charity Partner, Kensington + Chelsea Foundation, by giving the public the opportunity to purchase prints by participating artists. KCAW x Chelsea Windows and King’s Road Curve Public Art installation are supported by Sloane Stanley. Visit kcaw.co.uk for the full list of installations and to purchase prints.
Gold & Ashes will take over the site of Freston Road where last year’s empowering Black Lives Matter artwork was curated by Bolanle Tajudeen. The installation will be a moving new photography-based community project unveiled in North Kensington.
Sights & Sounds of Gen Z - Young people from Kensington and Chelsea have been invited to submit photographs of people or places which have a special affinity to them, for a public art exhibition on Kensal Canalside in Summer 2021. The exhibit is curated by Jarelle Francis and will be accompanied by a series of performances at Laylow music venue near Trellick Tower.
Netflix Big Flower Fight contestant Yan Skates will create a large-scale installation at the King’s Road Curve comprising of recycled materials and live plant installation in memory of KCAW Advisory Board member since 2018 Sarah Farrugia supported by Sloane Stanley.
Carnival Reimagined - As part of the ongoing ‘Recipe for a Happy Mind’ project by artist and carnivalist Linett Kamala, fellow creatives were asked to respond to the title of ‘Carnival Reimagined’. Selected artists were invited to reimagine and capture the ‘ingredients’ which go into the Notting Hill Carnival, such as the sights, sounds, dancing and movement. The artists’ menu for inspiration included music, colours, quotes, Caribbean food and beverages or memories which they associate with this iconic annual festival. Selected artwork can be viewed across the Notting Hill Carnival footprint.
Digital tours will return for 2021 and visitors can take virtual or real-life tours by following KCAW on Go Jauntly:
Further announcements will be published on kcaw.co.uk and in the printed guide distributed across all participating venues.