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Piccadilly Art Takeover
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Art of London is taking colour to the streets

Piccadilly Circus has had a vibrant new makeover

Written by Rhian Daly
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If you’re venturing into the West End this summer, you’ll be met by a whole blunt of colourful, exciting art. 

The new Art of London initiative has transformed Piccadilly Circus and the surrounding area, bringing the work of five artists from the Royal Academy of Arts to the streets. As well as 30 hanging flags and 13 incredibly jazzed-up pedestrian crossings, the artwork will also takeover the infamous big screens and witness weekly takeovers of the Piccadilly Lights. 

Launched today (July 21),  one of the largest public art takeovers of the capital ever will brighten up the area until August 31 and, being public, is absolutely free to enjoy. During that time you’ll be able to witness work by Michael Armitage, Farshid Moussavi OBE RA and Yinka Shonibare CBE RA, who designed the flags, paying tribute to key workers, love, and French architecture. 

Piccadilly Art Takeover
Joe Pepler/PinPep

Vanessa Jackson has redesigned the West End’s pedestrian crossings in a piece called UpTownDancing, with the aim of transforming the boring black-and-white stripes into something more electric. “I’m looking forward to people not just walking across my pavements – like Abbey Road – but actually, I hope they’ll be dancing,” she says. Her vibrant designs were done using Decomark, a prefabricated material that is environmentally friendly and doesn’t fade. 

Meanwhile, Isaac Julien CBE RA will takeover the Piccadilly screens for his piece, Lessons Of The Hour – a poetic meditation on American abolitionist Fredrick Douglass, who spent two years in the UK and became legally free during his time here. Trailers for the piece will show on the big screens with a full 30-minute screening taking place at the end of August. 

Piccadilly Art Takeover
Joe Pepler/PinPep

You’ll also be able to go deeper into Julien’s work via a fully immersive augmented reality (AR) trailer by scanning a QR code with your humble mobile phone. Interaction is encouraged at the Piccadilly Lights takeovers too, with an audio sync allowing visitors to listen along as the AR-assisted displays take place. 

The Art of London is part of the Mayor of London’s Let’s Do London campaign and its launch will be followed by more activities celebrating art, including pop-up exhibitions, a new addition to the Scenes In The Square statues trail, and an Augmented Gallery, which allows Londoners to view paintings from across the city’s galleries and institutions in an AR app. Head to the Art of London website for all the deets on the capital’s summer of art. 

Want more art? Feast your eyes on Covent Garden's new neon sculptures

Read more: Nine of the best ceramics made in London

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