Piccadilly transformed by the biggest public art takeover London has ever seen

Piccadilly Art Takeover is launching a season of free, accessible public art. Five artists chosen by the Royal Academy have transformed Piccadilly with 30 overhanging flags, 13 vibrantly painted pedestrian crossings and filmed pieces for a 780 square meter screen.

Until 31 August 2021, visitors can explore the biggest public art takeover the capital has ever seen. The large-scale public art commission is a partnership between the Royal Academy of Arts and Art of London, along with Westminster City Council and the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.

The five artists selected through the initiative have breathed life back into the West End. Michael Armitage, Farshid Moussavi OBE RA and Yinka Shonibare CBE RA designed striking banners to hang between the historic buildings. According to the artists, each banner celebrates love and “the work of key workers in London who worked throughout the pandemic, putting themselves at risk as a result.”

Vanessa Jackson RA has revamped the standard pedestrian crossings with brightly painted artworks. Called ‘UpTownDancing’, the designs were created using Decomark, an environmentally friendly prefabricated material that never fades. Jackson said she was “looking forward to people not just walking across my pavements – like Abbey Road – but actually, I hope they’ll be dancing.

On the giant screen at Piccadilly Circus, Isaac Julien CBE RA is showcasing his affirming film ‘Lessons of the Hour’. The film is a poetic exploration of the American abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who became legally free during his two years in the UK. There is also an augmented reality 10-screen experience which can be accessed with a QR code.

Piccadilly Art Takeover is the first major event in the Art of London Summer Season, a 3-month programme celebrating all forms of art across the West End. It is also part of Let’s Do London, a £7 million campaign launched by the Mayor of London, Visit London, Transport for London and the tourism industry.

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