As the season changes and with it comes the first signs of Christmas, we take a stroll down memory lane to the ‘Soho side‘ of Oxford Street where W1 Curates lit up (and continue to) a famous High Street with art…
If you’re looking for the old West End razzle dazzle to light up the Winter evenings, chances are you’ll head for Oxford Circus and continue on towards Marble Arch. But what of the other half of Oxford Street, traditionally the more neglected end of London’s favourite shopping mile? To be sure there’s been a certain amount of upscaling over the past few years, with one or two fewer slightly scruffy pop-ups and a smattering of respectable High Street names.
Art not Ads
Showcasing emerging & internationally-renowned artists at one of the world’s most iconic addresses – Oxford Street.
September 2019 though, was a game changer. That’s when the jewel in the crown of luxury retail outlets, Flannels, arrived, opening its doors at numbers 161-167. A portfolio of designer merchandise was yours for the browsing.
So far, so commercial. But it’s soon apparent it’s not just retail beaming out into winter gloom W1 Curates has transformed the exterior of the store into an extraordinary public exhibition space. Using state-of-the-art technology, they exhibit the best art with digital prowess and innovation. The aim is to make art available to everyone, all year round, night and day, via state-of-the-art tech. W1 Curates believes art has a purpose, the power to change the world. To drive consumer consciousness away from retail and towards issues that matter. As founder Mark Dale says, “For me, when shoppers rest their bags down and stare at the incredible art , it’s the best feeling in the world. Giving everyone the opportunity to experience art, to access it right there – amid all the noise of city life, it provides this little oasis. Shoppers and workers are left feeling ignited and inspired. We bring art to the people, we open those doors, and who knows where that could take them?”
Artists who have had their work exhibited in this unique way range from the contemporary to the classic. Julian George’s visual celebration of talented black chefs has had a successful run, along with pencil artist Helen Beard’s The Desire Path (pictured above), David Bailey, Michael Craig-Martin, Kelvin Okafor and David LaChapelle have also been represented.
The project has supported the local community and the NHS during COVID, along with education and heritage concerns. Its most recent incarnation is Someone of Soho – 100 portraits of people closely associated with the area (including our very own editor-in-chief Kai Lutterodt), by Richard Piercy.
So it seems the Oxford Street Christmas lights won’t be the only reason to head down the ‘Soho side‘ of the world’s most famous high street this winter…
Words by Gillian Smith.
For more information and to find out about upcoming exhibitions visit http://www.w1curates.com | IG: @w1curates
📍 Flannels, 161, 167 Oxford St, London W1D 2JP
This article was previously published in the My Soho Times Winter 2020 issue. To read online CLICK HERE.
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