This summer, West London is set to come alive with art events spanning public sculpture, exhibitions, festivals, and more. Take advantage of the sunny weather, and head into London’s most aesthetic area for some excellent culture and perhaps a lovely brunch. We’ve rounded up some of the highlights to get you started.
1. KENSINGTON + CHELSEA ART WEEK | 18 JUNE ONWARDS
Kensington + Chelsea Art Week (KCAW) returns for its fifth edition, once again bringing the borough to life with exciting and immersive public art events. The vibrant celebration of culture is free and open to all, offering a diverse programme of public art installations, exhibits, murals, walking tours, events, talks and unexpected experiences in unusual locations, revolving around the curatorial theme of Nourishment
PUBLIC ART TRAIL
This year’s PUBLIC ART TRIAL includes works by big names like Gavin Turk, and Sokari Douglas Camp CBE, a community outreach installation ‘Quilt Patch’ by Maya Sandbar, a 39-meter Afrofuturism mural ‘Stars of Earl’s Court’ and an installation celebrating neurodiverse people’s invaluable contribution to arts and sciences entitled Kaleidoscopic Minds by Azarra Amoy.
Also on show will be botanical paintings by Kipling Hint, and a giant sculpture reminiscent of a plastic food package by Richard Mackness. Roman Lokati’s artwork The Chelsea Look, comprises six life-sized metal figures that will be positioned throughout the borough, Konstantin Benkovich meanwhile will present a sculpture representing the right-hand of God, typically reaching down from the sky.
A mural will pop up on Freston Road by artists Birungi Kawooya and Bokani Tshidzu as part of the Untold Stories initiative funded by the Mayor of London and curated by Bolanle Tajudeen. The Royal Society of Sculptors member Lise Bouissiere offers upa large-scale installation inspired by London’s cityscape and made entirely of used straws. Finally, Who Tells Whom About What will be found at the Czech Embassy & Czech Centre, it comprises an outdoor, large-scale photo series of imaginary city models by leading Czech artists David Böhm & Jiří Franta.
Here’s a list of the works on show to help you find your way around the expansive spectacle: Azarra Amoy presents Stars of Earl’s Court at the former exhibition site on Warwick Road & Kaleidoscopic Mindson Exhibition Road.
Konstantin Benkovich presents The Right Hand of God in Holland Park’s Napoleon Garden. Sokari Douglas Camp CBE presents a sculptural Homage to Carnival in front of The Design Museum. Charlotte Colbert presents Cellular Amulet on Bramley Road, W10. David Böhm & Jiří Franta present Who Tells Whom About What at the Czech Embassy & Czech Centre on Kensington Palace Gardens. Kipling Hunt presents Home Grown in Kensington Memorial Park, on the exterior of the Kensington Dragons Football Club.
Birungi Kawooya & Bokani Tshidzu present a mural on Freston Road. Roman Lokati presents The Chelsea Look – six life-sized metal figures positioned throughout the borough at locations including Royal Avenue, Duke of York Square and Pavilion Road.
Maya Sanbar presents Quilt Patchtaking the form of stories quilted onto flags, hanging from the Chelsea Theatre’s exterior. Richard Mackness presents Domus on High Street Kensington. Gavin Turk presents The Spirit of Paintingon the cupola of The Coronet Theatre.
ART IN WINDOWS
Packed full of emerging artists on the cusp of greatness, Kensington + Chelsea Art Week and Sloane Stanley have once again collaborated to present an exhibition spanning 10 shopfront windows along the iconic King’s Road. For this year’s edition, the theme of Nourishment informs the curator Bella Bonner-Evans’ approach – she seeks to enrich the High Street with a beautiful celebration of culture and creativity, while helping to further the careers of young artists. For this esoteric project, retail spaces become pop-up contemporary art galleries and artists have the chance to reach new audiences and show their work in unique locations. The public are invited to discover the up-and-coming artists to know and enjoy the High Street full of creativity.
Participating stores, restaurants, cafes and more will be displaying ground-breaking artworks by London’s most exciting emerging artists including Layla Andrews, Anna Choutova, Darcey Murphy, Henrietta MacPhee, Rebecca Hardaker, Karolina Albricht, Niamh Birch, Phoebe Boddy, Rosie Sevink Johnston, Georgemma Hunt, Sam King and Luke Adam Hawker. A truly exciting bunch, many of these creatives have recently graduated or even hosted their first solo shows. In every case, the works on show radiate vibrance, energy and promise.
Don’t miss Darcey Murphy’s humorous and characterful renderings of animals at Love My Human, Anna Choutova’s mini olive and hotdog jars at Farm Fetch, and Layla Andrews exhibition filling the private room of wine bar 28:50.
THE ART BUS
You can tour the Public Art Trail on a Routemaster Bus whilst learning about the rich local history and counterculture narrated by local broadcaster Piers Thompson of Portobello Radio. It’s hop on, hop off and not to be missed! Register here.
2. RICHARDI BISSOURI: GLOIRE IMMORTELLE AT DAVID HILL GALLERY | TILL 29 JULY
Gloire Immortelle is the first ever solo exhibition by incredible West-African photographer Rachidi Bissiriou. Born in 1950 in the town of Kétou, Bissiriou began photographing members of his community after Benin was finally granted independence in 1960. In 1968, he opened Studio Pleasure in Kétou at the age of 18, which he operated until 2004. Following its closure, the now 72-year-old Bissiriou retired from photography to breed sheep and chickens, with an unlikely stint working in local politics.
Bissiriou inadvertently documented an intense period of seismic cultural and political shifts through his disarmingly beautiful portraits of local people as he found them. The images offer an insight into the diversity and beauty of West-African style during the period. A fusion of traditional attire such as grand boubou, head wraps and Ankara agbadas, are brought into conversation with a burgeoning westernised youth culture. An aura of true self-expression and a newfound freedom emanates from the figures, exemplified by the image of two young men in flares paired with billowing open shirts.
The show includes previously unseen portraits and coincides with The Victoria and Albert Museum’s Africa Fashion opening in July which also features Bissiriou’s work. An accompanying book titled Gloire Immortelle will be published by STANLEY/BARKER in June 2022.
3. SUMMER EXHIBITION AT THE ROYAL ACADEMY OF ARTS | TILL 23 AUGUST 2022
One of the annual art calendar highlights, the RA’s summer exhibition brings together over a thousand artworks in a wild, wacky and wonderful display of pieces by big names and unknown talents. It presents art in all forms, from prints, painting, film and photography, to architectural works and sculpture by invited artists, Royal Academicians and emerging talent.
Founded over 250 years ago, the event is both a stunning spectacle and the chance to purchase an amazing piece of original work. Often, it’s a great chance to fall in love with an artwork at first site, without expectation or preconception about the artist or potential value. Expect art world staples like Tracey Emin and Grayson Perry hanging next to a charming drawing by someone’s Grandma – what’s not to love.
4. FANCY A BITE? AT STUDIO WEST GALLERY | TILL 6 JULY 2022
An absolute treat for the foodies among us, STUDIO WEST’s exhibition FANCY A BITE, brings together an amazing group of emerging women artists whose practice revolves around food. This exhibition explores our complex relationships to food, the politics of domestic space, and themes of nostalgia. Expect artwork by Nell Mitchell, Phoebe Boddy, Pippa El-Kadhi Brown, Rafaela de Ascanio and Alice Johnson including a kitsch dinner table laded with comical handmade ceramics, beautiful paintings, handmade wallpaper and a whole lot of prawns.
With emphasis on authentic community engagement and unique experiences not traditionally held in gallery spaces, STUDIO WEST will also present a series of special events. Including a panel discussion on Tuesday 28 June and a Tea Party on Saturday 2 July between 2 – 5 pm. The Tea Party will welcome local people, artists, creatives and more to enjoy food, drink, poetry readings and performance.
5. THE SERPENTINE PAVILLION | THEASTER GATES’ THE BLACK CHAPEL |TILL 16 OCTOBER
The annual Serpentine pavilion remains an unmissable annual highlight for London’s art lovers. For 2022, Chicago-based artist Theaster Gates presents Black Chapel — a dark vessel space inspired by the bottle-shaped pottery kilns of the industrial Stoke-on-Trent. The stunning space is lit by single oculus, and holds a bell saved from the demolished St. Laurence Church on Chicago’s South Side.
Throughout the summer, the pavilion will host live music performances, poetry, and dance with a focus on public engagement. The symbolic bell will be rung “to call, signal and announce performances and activations.” The title, Black Chapel underlines the essential yet often invisible role that sacred arts and music have played in Gates’ world-renowned practice. Through his career, he has worked through urban planning and preservation to explore collective action. He is also focussed on celebrating and preserving the past, present, and future of the Black experience, and has personally invested in rejuvenating the art scene in Chicago’s South Side.
Art writer, curator and public relations specialist, focussed on platforming emerging talent across the visual culture sector. When not walking my dog in rainy East London parks, I can be found on my sofa writing articles for FAD magazine, Bricks Magazine, Art Plugged and Off the Block Magazine. Find me on Instagram @bellabonner