A group of environmentally passionate students have created artwork to reimagine London’s West End, showcasing their recommendations to make the area more sustainable. In a series of eye-catching artworks, the students had their visions for the future screened on the Piccadilly Lights to Londoners in a bid to inspire positive change.
A rallying call from young people in London, the new designs show that this generation want a city that’s community-driven, connected, accessible to all and self-sustaining. Developed in partnership with Heart of London Business Alliance’s award-winning cultural initiative Art of London and Westminster City Council’s City Lions programme, which gives young people access to the creative arts, the students pledged their dreams and hopes for their future city.
As a generation conscious of their environmental impact, the students were tasked with overhauling Piccadilly Circus, one of Europe’s busiest areas. Artistic pledges for the future included large green spaces filled with trees, water around the iconic Eros Statue, building-top walkways to reduce transport and pollution through the area, trampolines as an alternative and fun way to move around, beehives on top of the buildings and even the introduction of cows to make the space more agricultural.
Led by multidisciplinaryartist Fiona Quadri, whose head-turning art installation formed part of the ‘Brighter Future’ art trail in the West End throughout the summer, the students were encouraged to think about how to use art as a mechanism to raise issues and encourage positive change, with sustainability and environmental changes at the forefront of their ideas.
Students joined the session from schools across London, including Westminster City School, to take part in a day-long workshop at the National Gallery X (NGX), to discover how they want their future city to look, feel and become more environmentally conscious. It is the latest initiative to form part of Art of London’s public art commission, ‘Brighter Future’.
The group contained students who form part of Westminster City Council’s youth engagement programme, City Lions, which aims to give young people insight and access into the creative industry. As well as developing their artistic skills in the unique workshop at the National Gallery X, the students also benefited from The National Gallery’s Articulation project, a public speaking initiative which aims to encourage young people between 14-23 to express their thoughts and opinions on art with confidence.
Aditya Sanghani, student at Westminster City School, said: “It was brilliant working with Art of London to showcase our visions for the future of our cities. The future of our planet depends on us making positive, environmental changes and I’d like to see brighter cities with more pedestrianised areas and less vehicles on the streets.”
Mark Williams, Director of Art of London, said:“Brighter Future is all about using art to empower positive change. It’s important to give young people a platform to be heard and share their hopes and dreams. We’re delighted to have their sustainable designs form part of Art of London’s headline arts season seen by thousands of people walking past the Piccadilly Lights.”
Cllr Tim Roca, Deputy Leader of Westminster City Council, said: “I’m really proud of the students who have created this amazing artwork, showcased at one of central London’s most iconic locations. This initiative sends an important message: that we must all work together if we are to change our city and build a more sustainable environment for the future.”
Nick Osborne, City Lions Senior Project Development Officer, said: “Amazing to see two schools come together and students collaborate in creating a shared vision. Their creativity pushed the idea of what a brighter future could be. A fantastic initiative highlighting their potential”
Elaine Chance, Teacher from Westminster City School, said: “It’s so important to inspire young people and encourage their passions. We’re thrilled that our students were given an amazing opportunity at one of the world’s most iconic arts institutions. Changemakers for the future, our students came away feeling empowered and let’s see what the future holds for the West End!”
Fiona Quadri, Brighter Future Artist and workshop leader says: “I was touched to see institutional spaces in the West End come together to create opportunities for the next generation. It’s important to give a voice to the leaders of tomorrow and listen to their ideas and visions for a brighter future. These students were so creative and I can’t wait to see if any of their ideas for the West End area will come to life one day!”
Brighter Future kicked off the start of Art of London’s Summer Season 2022; a series of major public-realm art commissions and partnerships with the UK’s leading institutions, such as National Gallery X, Fujifilm and Veolia. The initiative focuses on using art to communicate the sustainable and environmental changes we can make to embrace a greener West End.
Visitors can find free art in Leicester Square from immersive artist Sam Williams and 3D artist Faith Bebbington. Londoners and tourists alike can make a day of it in the West End by using Art of London’s handy guides, which include food, art and culture stops to suit any type of trip, from family days out or the perfect cultural experience for aficionados.
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