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Why you should visit London's Wembley Park Art Trail

Why you should visit London's Wembley Park Art Trail

Wembley Park is no longer just an event-only destination, with the striking, colourful and free Wembley Park Art Trail a perfect reason to visit the most exciting neighbourhood in North West London this summer

London is a city made for summertime. The lush greenery of the city’s parks, the countless walking and cycling routes, the outdoor terraces for relaxing with a coffee or catching up with friends over a glass of Pimms, the Thames sparkling in the sunshine… all of this and more make London a wonderful city to enjoy over the summer months. One of the latest attractions is the outdoor art exhibition in Wembley Park, which uses the urban environment as its canvas.

Wembley Park was once an event-only destination. Visitors arrived, watched a gig or a match, then left. Not these days. Over the past decade, the area has transformed into a vibrant neighbourhood packed with shops, restaurants, artisan delis, pop up markets and antiques fairs, leisure outlets and more. It’s home to London’s largest Boxpark, twice Michelin-starred chef Atul Kochhar’s Masalchi restaurant, the bustling London Designer Outlet, Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre and the new public Union Park.

Arts and culture in Wembley Park

Art and culture have played an important role in this growth. Wembley Park regularly hosts free dance, music and arts events, while a range of classes are available at popular local community centre, The Yellow. The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra has announced it is moving to new headquarters in Wembley Park and has been involved in several local events. Second Floor Studios & Arts also has a major presence there, providing 26 purpose-built, affordable studios for artists, makers and designers.

"Buildings, bridges, steps and pavements are used by local and international artists in the creation of context-specific artworks"

In the midst of all of this excitement is an outdoor art exhibition designed to engage visitors of all ages. The Wembley Park Art Trail is free for all to enjoy. Buildings, bridges, steps, pavements and more are used by both local and international artists in the creation of context-specific artworks.

Permanent art installations

One example is the work of much-loved British artist Mr Doodle. His street art, which he describes as “graffiti spaghetti” covers 12 upcycled cinder blocks in Wembley Park’s Market Square and around the neighbourhood, creating a landscape of idiosyncratic characters. Look closely and you can discover nods to some of Wembley Park’s most iconic moments within the doodles, from football triumphs to music events.

Street art by Mr DoodleMr Doodle, Wembley Park. Image credit: Chris Winter / Wembley Park

One installation that delights visitors of all ages is the Shadow Wall from Jason Bruges Studio in the Royal Route underpass. Using infrared light sensors, the interactive artwork creates a "digital shadow" that moves with you as you pose, dance, jump, skip and more.

Shadow Wall art installationShadow Wall by Jason Bruges. Image credit: Chris Winter / Wembley Park

Temporary exhibitions

The Wembley Park Art Trail is also known for tackling important issues. In 2022, exhibitions included Figures of Change, which launched on International Women’s Day and featured public realm artworks from an all-female line-up, and Visions of Home, which was curated by Ukrainian-born artist and photographer Ira Lupu.

Figures of ChangePower Up! by Charley Peters Image credit: Aron Klein

Wembley Park Art Trail: summer 2023

The latest major new installations, on display until the end of September 2023, take viewers on a journey blending Wembley Park’s football heroes with memories and myths. An outdoor photo exhibition has been curated by Alzheimer’s Society and produced by Wembley Park, in which football heroes share some of their most cherished memories of the beautiful game, along with fascinating childhood photographs.

Football Should Be Unforgettable art"Football Should Be Unforgettable" curated by Alzheimer's Society. Image credit: Chris Winter / Wembley Park

The Football Should Be Unforgettable exhibition pays tribute to the deep-rooted connection between Wembley Park and English football while helping raise awareness of Alzheimer’s Society’s work. The large-format photographs also feature recipients of Alzheimer’s Society’s support, many of whom are living with dementia. The exhibition follows recent improvements to Wembley Stadium that have led to it becoming the first recognised national stadium to be dementia friendly.

Messenger by Claire Luxton

Also new to the Art Trail this summer is an expansive, site-specific new artwork from acclaimed multi-disciplinary artist and poet Claire Luxton. Luxton’s vast Messenger artwork spans different media and formats as it blends seamlessly with different elements of Wembley Park’s public realm. On the Spanish Steps, there is a striking triptych display inspired by ancient Greek mythology, where Hermes was the divine messenger, carrying dreams, impulses and messages.

Messenger art piece on phoneboxes‘Messenger’ by Claire Luxton. Image credit: Chris Winter / Wembley Park

Luxton’s artwork also adorns three original K2 red telephone boxes in Arena Square and a series of large digital screens along Olympic Way, in White Horse Square and greeting visitors passing through the Bobby Moore Bridge. The fascinating installation is captivating in its depth and texture, making it a must-see experience for anyone seeking to soak up London’s culture in the sunshine this summer. Artist Claire Luxton comments:

"Luxton’s vast 'Messenger' artwork spans different media and formats as it blends seamlessly with different elements of Wembley Park’s public realm"

Messenger is made up of clusters of wings morphing and evolving together in an optical illusion of colour and depth. Wings have often been seen as the expression of aspiration towards a higher-than-human condition, a bridge of imagination, thought, freedom and victory. In ancient Greece, Hermes had winged heels, a symbol of the traveller and the messenger, this was said to represent the carrier of dreams, of impulse, of movement. The Greeks also represented love and victory with wings. According to Plato, wings represent intelligence and understanding. This piece aims to act as a gateway of possibility, a pathway that can hold the dreams and aspirations of those before and what is to come.”

Urban innovation

The Wembley Park Art Trail is known for its exciting and innovative artworks. The soaring vibrancy of Luxton’s latest installation adds to the wide variety of styles and inspiration already available to those wending their way through the neighbourhood. In each case, the artworks speak to their local context, such as the Better Together mural by Brent-born graffiti artist and designer Pref.

Better Together artBetter Together by Pref. Image credit: Chris Winter / Wembley Park

Street artists from around the world have contributed to the trail, with the result that visitors can enjoy art all around them as the explore Wembley Park. One particularly eye-catching mural, for example, is Fire and Water by Japanese graffiti artist Suiko.

Fire and Water artFire and Water by Suiko. Image credit: Chris Winter / Wembley Park

Suiko’s signature bubbling shapes and vibrant colours also feature on Wembley Park’s Ferrum apartment building. The artist was commissioned to create an artwork that would encapsulate the New York-esque vibe of the loft-style apartments with their exposed steel and raw timber, located at the heart of Wembley Park.

Urban canvases

This creation of artworks that suit their urban context is a theme that runs throughout Wembley Park’s art trail. The huge floor mural created by artist Lois O’Hara at Samovar Space demonstrates this beautifully. Positioned at the foot of the Olympic Steps, the space was purpose-designed for and by young people, with students on the London School of Economics’ Apprenticeship in City Design helping to create it.

Think Independently, TogetherThink Independently, Together by Lois O’Hara. Image credit: Aron Klein

The sociable, open-air location provides a place for people to meet up and enjoy each other’s company without having to spend any money—something that is particularly relevant in current times.

"O’Hara’s mural 'Think Independently, Together' enhances the sense of connection and community of Samovar Space"

The name reflects that—a samovar is a large, communal kettle commonly used to brew tea in Western Asia and Eastern Europe, bringing with it associations of family events and welcome. O’Hara’s mural—entitled Think Independently, Together—reflects this feeling beautifully, enhancing the sense of connection and community that Samovar Space provides.

Free for all to enjoy

The Wembley Park Art Trail features more than 20 pieces of outdoor public art in total. Wembley Park Cultural Director Josh McNorton comments:

“These thought-provoking pieces are available for the public to freely view and contemplate, further enhancing Wembley Park’s reputation as one of London’s most culture-packed neighbourhoods.”

Wembley Park is just 12 minutes on the Underground from central London, making this not just a hotspot for free culture, but an easily accessible one.

For more information, visit wembleypark.com/art  

Banner photo: 
‘Messenger’ by Claire Luxton. Image credit: Chris Winter / Wembley Park

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