Capital leads the way in post-pandemic outdoor art boom


west London art festival is leading the way in a new wave of public art transforming the high street. Empty shop windows in Kensington High Street and Notting Hill will be transformed into pop-up galleries as part of the annual Kensington + Chelsea Art Week (KCAW), while boarded up buildings will become blank canvases for murals painted by art students. It is part of a boom in outdoor art driven partly by the Covid pandemic.

A report published last week by the City of London said public art will be vital in bringing people back to the centre of London once the pandemic ends. Other boroughs are also sponsoring more public art with Hackney drawing up plans for new artists to submit work for a scheme paid for by a six figure windfall by street artist Stik.


KCAW held an open call for people to get involved with almost half of applications coming from local artists. They were chosen by a panel including a local councillor and Tim Marlow, the Chief Executive of the Kensington -based Design Museum.

Festival Director Vestalia Chilton said her approach to public art was inspired by working with artists in hospitals. She said: “This is actually a proven thing that public art or an environment that is better designed can help the wellbeing of patients and they recover better so we know there is a link between wellbeing and art and good design and we all know sunlight improves our wellbeing. “In 2018 we were already talking about the death of the high street and all the different issues are not new and covid just accelerated a lot of these problems.

“I believe you have to come to your audiences you can’t expect people to come to a gallery.

“I think we are moving away from this idea you have to see art on the gallery space or the museum space.”

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