Kensington + Chelsea Art Week, Free Art & Culture Across the Borough from 22 June

Kensington + Chelsea Art Week, Free Art & Culture Across the Borough from 22 June

Kensington and Chelsea will come alive this summer with an incredible programme of public art. Free and open to all, this is the sixth edition of Kensington + Chelsea Art Week (KCAW), a vibrant celebration of culture across the borough.

At least 100 venues will take part, making this year’s event the most exciting and far-reaching edition yet. With an unmissable and diverse programme that includes public art installations, exhibits, murals, art tours, events, and talks, KCAW is now a firm fixture on London’s summer cultural calendar and will celebrate and showcase an extraordinary cross-section of art and culture across West London.

Passers by admiring one of the art works on the trail
Detangling the MBS by Josephine Chime.

Kensington + Chelsea Art Week showcases an extraordinary cross-section of art and culture throughout the borough. It is a not-for-profit, independent, and free festival which began with a public consultation by a group of volunteering arts industry professionals in 2018.

The Advisory Board continues to steer the festival to shine a spotlight on the area’s unexpected and unique cultural variety across a multitude of studios and galleries, museums, exhibition spaces and businesses throughout Kensington and Chelsea, supported by walking tours and an events programme encompassing food, music, theatre, and history – all aimed at creating opportunities to discover and experience the borough like never before.

The Curatorial Theme is ‘THE ART OF CHANGE’
For summer 2023, KCAW’s programme of impressive installations, events, exhibitions, and happenings will revolve around The Art of Change. KCAW has invited participating artists and local communities to ponder the progress change brings, exploring how we embrace change, how it inspires positivity, bravery, action and freedom, the feeling of change in the air.

Art Week Highlights Include:
The Kensington + Chelsea Public Art Trail – 22 June – 31 August. Always a much-photographed event for London, the Public Art Trail features world-class sculptures, installations and exhibits throughout the borough.

A chair-themed installation outside the Design Museum

Presented across nine zones, the Art Trail takes up residence at some of West London’s most beautiful and iconic sites, including Napoleon Garden in Holland Park, Duke of York Square, Earl’s Court, Notting Hill Gate, North Kensington, Sloane Street, South Kensington, the King’s Road and Knightsbridge.

The line-up for 2023 was chosen by an esteemed select committee following an Open Call and features Ai Weiwei, Misha Milovanovich, Malgorzata Lisiecka, Baker & Borowski, Josephine Chime, Lucy Oates, Norma D Hunter and Peter Morris.

Highlights along the Art Trail
Arguably one of the most acclaimed artists working today, Ai Weiwei presents two pieces of work as part of his continued narrative on the links between individuals, artefacts and history. His Design Museum show has wowed the crowds, and these pieces – replicas of two chairs owned by his father, replacing the leather with marble – draw on his own family history. Located outside the Design Museum.

The Cloud House Wendy House in its grounds

Architect Peter Morris, famed for his Cloud House in Hampstead, has created ‘The Cloud House Wendy House’, a children’s playhouse named after the character Wendy Darling from Peter Pan, written by JM Barrie, who lived opposite Kensington Gardens.

Two images of the Wendy House, one with a Peacock, the other with a child playing inside it

As an object for play, this little Cloud House, situated in Napoleon Garden in Holland Park, evokes the joyful spirit of Peter Pan and celebrates the glorious pastel colours of some of Chelsea’s prettiest streets. Morris uses this sculpture as a chance to thank the neighbourhood for its profound impact on his own creativity.

One of the trail’s Instagram moments will be provided by Baker & Borowski, whose “Graphic Rewilding Flower Clouds” takes shape via a 3D immersive sculpture inspired by Chelsea’s flora and horticultural heritage. Situated across sites including King’s Road, Duke of York Square and Sloane Street, installations have been constructed to allow visitors to sit inside the sculpture for a photo opportunity, appearing as though they were engulfed by flower clouds.

Additional sculptures and pieces include Satur Chong’s Victorian manhole covers, “Manhole Tea Set” in South Kensington and Norma D Hunter’s interactive installation piece, ‘Penny for ‘Em’. Located by South Kensington Station, the item was made as a statement about how society views and sexualises breastfeeding in public spaces.

The Penny for Em interactive art installation

Visitors trailing through the borough to Earls Court Station will find The Art of Change floor mural, co-created with resident mural artist Lucy Oates and the local community on the Warwick Road pavement.

A side view of the mural being printed, which school children will colour in when it is completed

The mural creation will begin on 22 June and will be completed and coloured in by local children and residents.

Cromwell Place Courtyard will be enveloped in Malgorzata Lisiecka’s organic sculpture, “Hidden Dimensions”, with tendrils of blue erupting from the courtyard and trees to represent the complex ecosystem beneath us.

The KCAW Public Art Trail is seen by over one million visitors per week and creates temporary landmarks across the area of West London that connects Kensington and Chelsea through an evolving discovery trail. Past editions have included pieces by the likes of Alex Chinneck, Liz West, Zac Ové, Gavin Turk, Charlotte Colbert, and Barnaby Barford.

The Art Trail is delivered in partnership with Kensington and Chelsea Festival with assistance from Kensington and Chelsea Council and principal sponsor Cadogan.

Two of the artists with their piece, which was sponsored by Cadogan

Kensington and Chelsea Festival is run and funded by Kensington and Chelsea Council. The popular Art Trail Bus Tour will also return on 1 July, organised by The Muse Gallery, The Galleries Association and Portobello Radio, who will be broadcasting live from the bus.

Community Collaborations
Many of this year’s contributing artists have collaborated with local communities through workshops, interactive art, and community-led voting.

A vibrant mural will be located on the rear wall of the Emslie Horniman Pleasance Park play area as part of a collaboration between Kensington and Chelsea Art Week and Kensington and Chelsea Council. The vision of community artist Junior Tomlin, ‘Children are our rising stars,’ is the winner out of three shortlisted proposals as voted for by the public.

Tomlin’s design features a glorious celebration of stars, planets and a riot of colour and has been created with students of the RCA, with additional handprints contributed by local children from Art Brunel Primary Academy.

West London mural artist Lucy Oates will develop a floor mural titled The Art of Change in line with this year’s curatorial theme on the Warwick Road pavement opposite the entrance to Earl’s Court Station. The design will depict the statement The Art of Change, accompanied by decorative elements to highlight the local cultural elements of Earl’s Court.

The paint used is temporary, non-toxic, and suitable for outdoor use, and local children and groups will be invited to complete the project by colouring the design in. The mural creation will begin on 22 June.

As part of the KCAW partnership with Morley College, students will create KCAW volunteer t-shirt designs and bespoke public artwork in celebration and the announcement of the new Ladbroke Arts District.

Ladbroke Grove has long been a creative epicentre of expression: from the independence of Frestonia to the local galleries that include David Hill Gallery, Bramley Studio, Frestonian Gallery, Unit One Studio and Workshop, The Serena Morton Gallery, Tribal Gathering, The Museum of Brands. The Yellow Building just around the corner is marked by Anthony Gormley sculpture in the courtyard, and it is, of course, home to the world-famous Carnival.

Several leading galleries have opened here over the years, and the new mural created by Morley College Students aims to highlight the creativity of the area.

Giant Mamas is an outdoor installation by Maya Sanbar created from stories of women living and working in World’s End estate. The artworks created celebrate the role of women in the community, with the women represented as a set of Goddesses installed on the outside of the Chelsea Theatre and piazza.

The form, character and shape of the Goddesses are developed in collaboration with the community in a series of workshops. The role of the women holding the community together is immense and often undervalued; this is amplified by representing them as mythological beings energised by their strength and power. Each of the Goddesses comes with a back story created in collaboration with a professional writer participating in the workshops.

PINGA by Misha Milovanovich

Art Week will once again offer an array of Tours, Talks, + Events to explore all that KCAW and its participants have to offer: an interactive Culture Map, curated walks via Go Jauntly, the printed Guide, plus enhanced children’s and volunteering programmes.

KCAW director Vestalia Chilton will host a panel talk, ‘Imagining Future Cities: Culture + Architecture + Art’, at Empress Place, Earl’s Court, on 28 June. The panel will include leading architects, academics and artists, inviting them to respond to the question, ‘How can art help us build bridges with the local community through arts and culture?’. Panellists: Dr Georges Kachaamy (Director of the Center for Research, Innovation and Design), Victoria Whenray (Architect and Board Director at Conran and Partners), Lucy Oates (artist).

Kensington + Chelsea Art Week will launch an immersive ten-day digital project at the Exhibitionist Hotel, developed by London-born, South Asian artist Saira Jamieson. The rich narrative of Jamieson’s multi-disciplinary work is compelling, deeply personal and courageous, merging traditional skills with modern technology.

An official partner of KCAW, Saira Jamieson will host an array of evenings, sharing her stage with creatives from across the music, spoken word, performing arts and culinary world. Jamieson will perform at The Exhibitionist Hotel on 22 June as part of the Kensington + Chelsea Art Week opening party.

Black Blossoms and artists Bokani and Birungi Kawooya, in collaboration with KCAW and the Mayor of London’s ‘Untold Stories’ Fund, will host a Flashmob meditation session at The Design Museum on 28 June from 4.30 pm-5 pm. Taking place in the museum’s stunning atrium, in the surroundings of the exceptional Ai Weiwei solo exhibition, there is no need to book; just turn up for a moment of rest and meditation.

The meditation is part of the activities surrounding a subject matter of rest and wellness, based on a mural created by the artists titled ‘Black Womxn at Rest’, which can be found on Freston Road, challenging societal expectations and encouraging a much-needed dialogue on the importance of rest and self-care.

Kensington + Chelsea Art Weeks charity partner, The Playground Theatre, has also curated a programme of free events, exhibitions and performances, especially for Art Week. Originating as a creative space for innovative theatre artists of all disciplines to ‘play’ with their imaginative ideas, The Playground Theatre now collaborates with theatre professionals to facilitate a diverse range of workshops.

Over half of the organisations’ programme happens locally, in North Kensington, with their flagship service ‘Well Read’ engaging over 250 unique participants so far. A special ‘Well Read’ workshop will be available as part of their broader Art Week programme.

The Playground Theatre’s latest service, ‘We Start,’ is supported by Grenfell Recovery Fund. Locals can make and access arts, develop artistic careers and improve skills from sculpture to spoken word poetry.

Poetry Corner returns, seeking to give greater visibility to locally based creative talent. Art Week will display poems selected through an open call in the vitrines of participating venues throughout the borough.

Poets include Alba Frederick, Aldo Quagliotti, Aishwarya Gupta, Bea Reid, Beatriz Andrade, Diane Frost, Ekaterina Murashova, Gad Kaynar Kissinger, Isabelle Evans, Katie Allen, Lauren Bulla, Lucas Pistilli, Marina Takla, Maya Sanbar, Nakeita Frater, Nanda Khiara, Nathanael Bailey (aka Mr Lisp), Neda Vakilian, Princess Emmanuelle, Ramona Galardi, Sarah Lawton, Vinny Raval, Wendy Young, and Willelmina Joseph-Lowenthal.

This summer also sees the return, by popular demand, of KCAW x Chelsea Windows, supported by Sloane Stanley and curated by Jack Trodd. A local favourite now in its fourth year, visitors can feast their eyes on a series of carefully curated art displays by emerging London-based talent displayed in shop windows and retail spaces along the iconic King’s Road towards World’s End.

Supporting the careers of noteworthy young artists is at the heart of this project, with all sales going directly to the artist. Artists include Phoebe Boddy, Henrietta MacPhee and Selby HI, Raffael Bader, Harry Cartwright, Mary West, Aline Gaiad and Alice Hartley.

Another highlight is Tools for Solidarity’ an art project led by RESOLVE Collective in collaboration with The Mosaic Rooms. ‘Tools for Solidarity’ encourages The Art of Change through collaboration with young people from a local youth club and local families to create an outdoor play installation at The Mosaic Rooms.

Visitors will be invited to change the installation’s form over the summer through experimental and radical constructive play. As part of the commission research, RESOLVE Collective will go to Palestine to connect ‘Tools for Solidarity’ internationally through workshops with school children in Ramallah.

The Detangling the MBS sculpture, photographed from it base so it resembles a high rise building

Visit to find out more about Kensington + Chelsea Art Week’s full programme information and to book your place for popular talks and events.

Key Kensington + Chelsea Art Week Dates

  • Kensington + Chelsea Art Week | 22 June – 2 July
  • Flashmob meditation | The Design Museum | 28 June | 4.30-5pm
  • Art Bus Tour | 1 July | 10am-3pm
  • KCAW Public Art Trail until 31 August

Photography by Katie Edwards and Paul Neiman.

Read more art news, guides and features here.

Four ladies sitting on one of the art installationsKensington + Chelsea Art Week, Free Art & Culture Across the Borough from 22 June 2

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