Wembley Park is a part of town most people venture to when there’s an event at either Wembley Arena or Wembley Stadium – the latter looming so large it can be seen from across town in South London on a clear day.
It’s why the area has been investing in outdoor art and a Winter lights festival, as it wants to become a place to visit even when it’s not a gig or match day. This year’s outdoor art installation has been curated by Jo McLaughlin from Acrylicise and she walked me around this year’s crop.
The artworks are all outdoors and there’s no ‘please do not touch’ signs which makes them feel a lot more accessible for anyone walking past – and I’m sure also reduces the need to worry about protecting works with barriers or security.
This year’s installations are all by female artists and were fittingly launched on International Women’s Day – 8th March.
While the stadium’s arch is prominent on exiting the Underground it’s got stiff competition from Lucy Hardcastle’s jellies – a digital fluctuating artwork that hits you with a mass of quivering pink in a widescreen across the top of the underpass. It’s vibrant and playful, and the first of three digital works that will rotate on display while the current trail remains in place until June.
The work is part of a collaboration with HerVisions – a platform specialising in promoting female digital artists. Given the wider digital sector is male-heavy, it’s unsurprising to hear that digital art is similar so it’s great to give this much visibility to work by female digital artists and two of Lucy’s ‘totems’ (box screens on tall plinths) stand across the road from Wembley stadium – you won’t miss them if you’re heading to a match.
Hitting us with some more colour are Fiona Grady’s sun-kissed phone booths that Jo explains are designed to show the transition between seasons in keeping with this year’s theme of ‘Equilibrium’. While the Spanish Steps are hard to miss given their pastel-coloured overhaul.
A personal highlight was the photography on display that looks at four women of colour including Yasmin Jama and her attempts to reconcile her Islamic faith with her Western lifestyle, and the beautiful stylised compositions of Fares Micue.
Wembley’s art isn’t limited to this year’s all-female selection as barriers decorated by Mr Doodle in his trademark style have been kept on from before as well as the popular Shadow Wall by Jason Bruges that reacts to people walking past, creating shadows out of light.
Wembley Park’s ambition is to get the location on par with South Bank, which is admittedly a high bar to hit. While its current art offerings may be most comparable with the likes of Canary Wharf, it never hurts to be ambitious.
Equilibrium curated by Acrylicize is on at Wembley Park until 25th June.
All images Chris Winter / Wembley Park.