Tabish Khan the @LondonArtCritic loves art and visits hundreds of exhibitions a year. But every now and then he comes across something in the art world that either does or doesn’t meet his approval.
I spend a lot of time walking around London and while it’s a city filled with art it definitely feels like there’s more outdoors this year than I can remember in my over 10 years of writing about art.
There’s returning regulars like The Fourth Plinth, Mayfair sculpture trail (now ended), the Kensington and Chelsea Art Week trail, Sculpture in the City and permanent features such as The Line in East London and a pair of excellent Windrush commissions in Hackney.
However, there’s also plenty of temporary pieces including a luminous work by Jyll Bradley outside Hayward Gallery and statues of chimpanzees along the South Bank for those fancying something more traditional in style. It’s not all sculptures either with Dryden Goodwin’s posters in Lewisham highlighting the fight to remove pollution from London’s streets. And for those thinking it’s largely central London, there’s also Gallery No. 32 all the way out in Bexley with its outdoor sculpture programme and I recently saw some art outside, and inside, Chichester Cathedral too. There does appear to be something for every type of art lover and there’s plenty more that I’m sure I haven’t managed to see.
Seasoned gallery goers may be wondering why this matters when there’s plenty of art inside anyhow, particularly in London, and most of it free to visit. But for those not steeped in art, galleries can be intimidating places to visit – I’ve seen plenty of visitors tentatively step inside and ask if the exhibition is free and others scared off by the intimidating buzzer or closed door.
Placing art outdoors breaks down all these barriers as the intimidation factor is taken away, and people feel comfortable interacting and judging art – sometimes to the detriment of the art itself as outdoor art is much more likely to be damaged.
However, the positives far outweigh the downsides and if you really want to make art accessible to everyone and reach those who wouldn’t ordinarily visit galleries then outdoors is the place for art to be. The push for outdoor art may have started during the pandemic as we couldn’t venture indoors, but it appears as if it’s here to stay and that’s something we should all welcome.
For more in this series, see my thoughts on inappropriate selfies, it’s air conditioned, why everyone is wrong about NFTs, poor press releases, experience as art, commercial as a dirty word, new galleries opening in London, video art at home, the Hockney roundel, art finds a way, art being free, Online exhibitions, Turner Prize 2019, artist’s request for feedback, the reaction to the shredded Banksy, #FriezeWeek, Blockchain hype, Finding art, Private views, Art itself, Appointment only exhibitions, Artificial Intelligence replacing artists, Everyone’s a Critic, Photo London, The Turner Prize, Art for art’s sake, Conceptual art is complicated, Condo, How performance art is presented in museums, Frieze week floozies, too much respect for an artist’s legacy, opinions not being welcome, an exhibition across three countries, tackling race and gender in art, artist-curators, art fair hype, top 5s and top 10s, our political art is terrible, gap left by Brian Sewell, how art never learned from the Simpsons, why artspeak won’t die, so-called reviews, bad reviews are bad for business, the $179m dollar headline, art fairs appealing to the masses, false opening hours, size matters and what’s wrong with video art.
Image copyright Jyll Bradley.