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Celebrating London’s Stunning Open-Air Art for London Design Festival

Taking place between the 12-20th September, London Design Festival (LDF) will be the first major design festival since the coronavirus pandemic stopped everything in its tracks.

Despite many of the usual LDF events moving online, there is still plenty of outdoor art across the capital that can be visited on foot. Whilst a gallery might have a roof, as long as you’ve got an umbrella and a warm coat, you can enjoy art in the outdoors, whatever the weather. (main image: Photograph: Tim Crooker Walala Parade)

The design team at Heal’s has curated this guide to a socially distanced design tour across London, including some hidden gems to discover along the way.

1.   The Hot House – International Quarter London (IQL)

IQL is a new neighbourhood in the heart of Stratford and on the doorstep of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. In the 1930s, there were more than 1,300 acres of greenhouses in the area growing plants, flowers, and exotic fruits at the time such as grapes and cucumbers.

The Hothouse will provide a controlled habitat for cultivating plants that would not ordinarily grow within the UK’s climate. However, scientists predict that if the current rate of climate change continues to accelerate, all of these crops could potentially be grown outside in the UK by 2050 – highlighting the reality of a rapidly changing climate.

The Hothouse will be in situ for a year, displaying the variance and evolution of plants across all seasons – but also seeking to educate and inspire.

The installation seeks to demonstrate the effects of climate change, whilst also celebrating the beauty of plants and humans’ adaptability, ingenuity and ability to overcome the problem.

2.   Walala Parade – Waltham Forest, Leyton

Photograph: Tim Crooker

London’s most exciting new public mural was unveiled this week ahead of London Design Festival. Residents of Leyton crowdfunded a redesign of an entire block of shops, hiring designer Camille Walala to design a large-scale mural in her signature style.

Geometric shapes in red, blue, yellow, black and purple fill Leyton High Road with colour. The project is backed by the city council as well as Saddiq Khan, who’s grant helped the project reach it’s crowdfunding target. 

Not only is this mural eye-catching, it is green too. The designers used recycled paint along with a new paint formula that aims to absorb carbon emissions.

3.   Unity – Coal Drops Yard, Stable St, Kings Cross, London N1C 4DQ

French designer Marlene Huissoud has created an interactive piece for Coal Drops Yard in King’s Cross, which focuses on unity and the importance of working together for the greater good as we emerge from the pandemic.

Visitors to the ‘Unity’ installation will stand in a circle 2 meters apart and work together to breathe life into the piece using foot pumps. Participants will pump air into the system as the installation grows and transforms in front of them. If no one is pumping, the sculpture will deflate and lose its shape, sending a message to the world that by standing and working together as a unit will create a better world.

4.   Sculpture in the City – Aldgate

Copyright the artist. Photo: © Nick Turpin

The ninth edition of London’s ‘Sculpture in the City’ has been extended into Spring 2021, featuring 19 artworks across ‘the square mile’. World renowned artists have collaborated with local businesses in London’s insurance district to breathe life into the urban landscape.

This year, the artists focused on light, scale, sculpture and surrealism. Use the online guide to discover the installations and you’ll wind your way past some of London’s most iconic landmarks.

5.   London Mural Festival #LMF – Various Locations

From Wembley to Walthamstow, the organisers of the London Mural Festival are working with 150 artists to paint over 50 large-scale murals across the Capital.

The festival will showcase work from renowned artists such as Camille Walala, Dale Grimshaw and Seb Lester to name just a few, with a whole host of artists to be announced over the coming months.

The self-guided map is set to be released on the 14th September 2020, which will reveal the location of each mural. Perfect for a weekend of art discovery in London.

6.   Wembley Public Art Trail – Wembley Park

In collaboration with London Mural Festival, Wembley Park is adding to its already extensive display of free street art, including this mural by graffiti artist and designer Pref. Known for his multi-layered, three-dimensional lettering, Better Together showcases this signature style. Inspired by recent social and political events, the design highlights the importance of community and unity.

7.    ‘A Bullet from a Shooting Star’ Greenwich

Bullet from a Shooting Star was created for the London Design Festival back in 2015. The outdoor installation at Greenwich Peninsula was created by London-based sculptor Alex Chinneck, giving a nod to the industrial structures around the River Thames in London.

The enormous structure leans at an angle, and is meant to look like an electricity pylon that has been shot straight into the earth. The structure can be viewed on foot, via the Thames Clipper service and the Emirates Air Line.

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