On & Around the Street

KENSINGTON + CHELSEA FESTIVAL 2021

This summer will see a celebration of art, performance and community take over the neighbourhood with the inaugural Kensington + Chelsea Festival, which promises a diverse programme of arts experiences in venues and unusual spaces, putting culture at the heart of pandemic recovery and highlighting a wealth of talents whose careers have been on hold for a year. 

The festival will kick off on June 21 with the annual Kensington + Chelsea Art Week (KCAW), which will run over 11 days and see the fourth edition of the beloved Public Art Trail throughout Chelsea, with artists, creators, performers and curators exploring this year’s theme, ‘Reimagine’. 

The Public Art Trail is an opportunity to see the neighbourhood with fresh eyes, with the possibility of unexpected delight around every corner. It places joy, innovation, and celebration at its core, providing space for the public and the creative community to rebuild and reconnect, after a difficult year of uncertainty. 

Highlights of this year’s Public Art Trail include incredible works by Anthony Garratt, Amy Jackson, Lauren Baker, and Rand Abdul Jabbar, whose diverse, thought-provoking and influential works will forge new connections between the artists and their works, as they are brought into conversation with the local environment.

'The Answer is Inside' by Lauren Baker
'The Answer is Inside' by Lauren Baker

Throughout Chelsea, Lauren Baker’s arresting neon Poetic Light Typography installations will appear in unexpected locations. Inspired by local icons such as Vivienne Westwood and Oscar Wilde, her evocative works will inspire shoppers and locals to pause and contemplate life, joy and existence.

Last year’s Art in Windows initiative was such a hit that it’s back again, bringing an enhanced sense of discovery to shoppers and passers-by alike. 

While you’re walking down the King’s Road, keep an eye out for store windows that have been transformed by local artists and creative studios. Turn your inner auto-pilot off or you might miss some sensational sights, such as a large-scale installation at the King’s Road Curve comprising of recycled materials and live plant installation by Yan Skates, a contestant in Netflix’s  Big Flower Fight

At the Saatchi Gallery, Art Explora, JR: Chronicles (4 June to 3 October) will be the largest solo museum exhibition of the work of JR, the internationally recognised Parisian artist and storyteller, featuring some of his most iconic projects from the past fifteen years, including The Secret of the Great Pyramid (2019) to mark the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Louvre Pyramid, and Tehachapi (2019) JR’s experiences with inmates of a maximum-security prison in California.

'Art Explora, JR: Chronicles' at the Saatchi Gallery
'Art Explora, JR: Chronicles' at the Saatchi Gallery

Beyond KCAW, the Kensington + Chelsea Festival will run until the August bank holiday. Expect a multi-disciplinary celebration of creativity and culture for everyone. 

The Festival programme features fun, inspirational, surprising experiences, spanning visual art, design, theatre, circus, opera, dance, music, outdoor arts, comedy, spoken word, young people’s take-over stages, family shows, talks, micro-commissions, with creative experiments enabling audiences to see artists bringing new ideas to life.

All events will be safe and accessible and held across Kensington and Chelsea’s iconic venues, including the Royal Court, Chelsea Old Town Hall, Cadogan Hall, and Chelsea Theatre, which will host up to 18 nights of fringe-style performances, as well as unusual public spaces, with online and interactive ways to get involved. 

Visit kcaw.co.uk to be kept in the loop as more events are announced and make sure to sign up to the K+C Festival newsletter at kcfestival.co.uk to be the first in the know.