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Country & Town House: Q&A with Vestalia Chilton

Country & Town House magazine's Bella Lewis talks to Vestalia Chilton about some of the KCAW highlights, like Red Bus ‘Hop on/Off’ Gallery tours connecting North and South Kensington, a lecture series by After Nyne Magazine, curator talks, debates and temporary public art installations.

Is there an installation to which you’re looking forward in particular?

It’s quite hard to choose. The first thing which comes to mind is the stand-out public installation of Terry O’Neill’s ‘Faces Of Kensington & Chelsea’ in Sloane Sq. His iconic photographs of the Rolling Stones, Twiggie, Gordon Ramsey are known globally. Art from the swinging sixties to today will be proudly displayed in the centre of Sloane Square for all to see. The area has changed in the last 5 decades so we hope this photographic display will trigger the memories that made the heritage of the area we know and love today.

What are the Red Bus ‘Hop on/Off’ Gallery tours like?

It’s a free double decker red London bus tour starting at two points: one at Saatchi Gallery (Duke’s Square) and the other near Trellick Tower in Westbourne Grove (North Kensington). The busses will run for two days continuously, stopping at 20 locations along the way. On the hop off/hop on tour we have a special recording of public ally nominated local heroes interviewed live on Portobello Radio with Piers Thompson as part of the Art Weekend.

What events are buzzing with the most excitement? 

The talks programme is amazing. We have Elliot Grove, Raindance Founder, in conversation with one of the actors to accompany the special  Screening of ’Sammy and Rosie get Laid’ at Electric Cinema (Portobello Road, Notting Hill), agent provocateur & artist Alison Jackson will be discussing arts and politics at Saatchi Gallery, the tastemaker and established curator Alistair Hicks will discuss the state of the arts with After Nyne Editor Claire Meadows at The Royal Society of Sculptors – that’s just some of the special talks and panels – we also have parties and previews! Serena Morton Gallery will host a charity event in aid of the The Clement James Centre, with live music from Loretta Hayward and DJs Don Letts and David Hall. A special live performance of the iconic song Optimistic, written for Sounds of Blackness, 1991 will be performed by The Portobello Choir.

From the younger generation we have Vardaxoglou with ‘Not Another Degree Show’, a tongue-in-cheek commentary on the tired model of the art degree show. Blue Plaque tours will also be on offer for those wanting to learn more about the history of the area and my favourite are the special architectural tours of the newly opened Design Museum – an iconic building repurposed for a new role.

Geoffrey Matthews, secretary of The Chelsea Arts Club on the borough of Kensington & Chelsea…

What do you feel the borough of Kensington & Chelsea has given to the world in terms of artistic legacy?

What is now RBKC has been artistic hotspot for nearly 200 years. JMW Turner spent his latter years living in Cheyne Walk and painting the river, and by the end of the 19th century there were more than 2,000 artists living and working in Chelsea. They included the great American painter JAM Whistler, who was taken out on the river by the son of Turner’s boatman. Fast forward to the 1960s, and the King’s Road was a global centre for youth fashion.


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