The development of London’s King’s Cross has seen the area transformed from a dreary transport hub to a tourist destination in its own right. Along with new shops, bars, restaurants and apartments, it is now home to various galleries and cultural spaces – from the House of Illustration to music and comedy venue King’s Place and the Central Saint Martin’s-owned Lethaby Gallery.
The latest addition to N1C’s arts scene will see King’s Cross partner with museums and galleries in the UK and abroad to put on a rolling programme of exhibitions and events across the 26-acre site. A permanent outdoor gallery, made up of 15 movable displays complete with seating, will showcase a changing line-up of work from leading photographers and visual artists. King’s Cross will also be working with creatives and cultural organisations to put on a series of free public events throughout the year.
The Outside Arts Project launches this week with Games We Play, a summer-themed showcase from the Photographers’ Gallery in Soho, which runs until November 1. Described as a “witty and subversive take on traditional past times and summer activities”, the exhibition features work by Julie Cockburn, Luke Stephenson and Weronika Gęsicka.
Robert Evans, CEO of King’s Cross, says the initiative was founded to provide a free and open programme for people visiting, living or working in King’s Cross. “With the Outside Arts Project we are bringing something new to London; an always-on, but ever-changing gallery space which can be enjoyed by anyone at any time,” he says. “We hope the Outside Art Project brings a little joy to people, whether they are living or working here, or just passing through.”
Brett Rogers, Director of the Photographers’ Gallery (which reopened this week), says the debut exhibition builds on TPG’s mission to foster “a deeper engagement with contemporary photography” and comes ahead of a new programme to transform the public space outside its venue in Soho in 2021.
The exhibition forms part of a wider summer arts programme at King’s Cross, which includes free workshops, residencies and large-scale installations. German artist Stephan Zirwes has transformed Granary Square with a vast artwork depicting two swimming pools, while Notes to Strangers creator Andy Leek has set out to lift people’s spirits with upbeat messages applied to walls and benches. Future projects include a photography exhibition curated in partnership with Mentivity, an organisation that provides mentoring for BAME students and young people, which is due to launch in January 2021.
With people spending more time outdoors as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the past few months have seen a wave of new posters and artworks appearing in urban spaces. New York’s Public Art Fund recently collaborated with 50 artists to display work created during lockdowns on bus shelters and kiosks across the city’s five boroughs, while creative projects Stay Sane, Stay Safe and In Good Company have worked with designers to put up colourful posters in the Netherlands and the UK.
Through the Outside Arts Project, King’s Cross is hoping to build on its existing cultural initiatives, and make contemporary art available to a wider audience. “This is part of the ethos of King’s Cross, to be open and welcoming to everyone. It is also part of our commitment to making art accessible every day,” says Evans.