Champions of Kensington & Chelsea: Vestalia Chilton and Emily Candler
Amongst the sugar white porticos of Belgravia and imposing redbrick mansion flats, a bright young star will land this week, its rays reaching right across the whole of the Royal Borough.
The Kensington and Chelsea Art Weekend is hosting its second annual iteration this coming Friday, from the 28th to the 30th June. The weekend is a zany, vivacious medley, a fusion of living art and larger-than-life sculptures. Offering a unique experience of the arts by showcasing the cultural art of the borough in fun, engaging ways, it opens the area to the public, exhibiting art freed from the constraints of the gallery wall.
Emily Candler, the Executive Director of Discover South Kensington, a partnership of 19 cultural and educational organisations, is well versed in the rich history of the locale. Created from the legacy of the Great Exhibition of 1851, South Ken was the world’s first planned cultural city-centre. Today it is still home to leading science and art institutions such as the Natural History Museum, V&A and Science Museum. “We’re standing on the shoulders of giants, brilliant museums, but we also have smaller institutions that don’t get as much limelight,” Emily explains, “by uniting them together in one weekend of culture, everybody gets a chance to shine.”
Such is the goal of the Art Weekend. Vestalia Chilton, who founded the fair just last year, and Emily Candler were introduced to one another by the regeneration director at the Tate Modern, after Vestalia shared her thoughts with him, when KCAW was still just a budding fantasy. He made the all-important introduction to Emily, a working relationship turned friendship which has spawned countless ideas and avenues, as well as late-night conversation. The result is one of the most versatile and inclusive platforms for showcasing work; for local artists and local businesses are encouraged to participate, even opening their studios or emerging galleries to visitors. Aligned with an emerging new art season in West London, KCAW19 coincides with some of the world-class events that define our city: Masterpiece London in Chelsea, Mayfair Art Weekend, London Art Week, and now, the brand-new Great Exhibition Road Festival in South Kensington.
With a view of drawing technology into the conversation, this interactive Weekend comes along with guidebooks and online programmes jammed with information about all the events. Your time can be tailored to suit you, and your particular tastes. Science, after all, plays as much of a role in the Borough as art. Once known as Albertopolis, South Kensington wants to retain its time-honoured throne as home and inspiration for the engineers, designers, scientists, musicians and artists of the future. When asked what inspired her to start KCAW, Vestalia said, “I suppose there were already things going on culturally, but I felt there wasn’t something linking it all together. So the principle of the Weekend was not to invent anything new but to bring to the fore what was more hidden.”
We know the history of the Great Exhibition and we see the blockbuster shows in the museums advertised year after year, but KCAW is a new breed; a living, breathing, 21stcentury celebration of culture. How could you possibly miss it?