MTArt Agency’s programme of public art sprung up in London’s most iconic locations last week to coincide with Frieze London, vowing to make inspiring art accessible to all.
When museums and galleries were forced to close their doors in response to the pandemic this year, Marine Tanguy, founder and CEO of MTArt Agency, looked for other windows to display art during these unprecedented times. Committed to bringing its artists to the forefront while making art free and accessible to all, MTArt Agency launched a trail of public art that stretches across London, featuring arresting artworks by nine of the agency’s artists in thirteen locations. Marine took us on a tour of the public art trail on a beautiful, crisp autumn afternoon.
“It’s always been our dream to make magic happen…and this year we have.”
‘At the start of the lockdown, I kept walking around the empty streets of Central London with my 7-month-old son, Atlas,’ Tanguy says. ‘I remember thinking: how magical would it be if we could look at art as we were walking around these streets? We started to re-imagine a city filled with hope by making our streets more inspiring with art.’
In collaboration with prestigious organizations such as Sofitel, The Crown Estate, Westminster, Rosewood London, and the Fund for Global Human Rights, MTArt Agency has incorporated uplifting artworks in London’s streets and shops that have been struggling since the COVID-19 outbreak. The public art project has spruced up neighbourhoods impacted by the pandemic—breathing new life, spirit, and positive energy into their local communities.
The power of public art lies in its ability to communicate with people in their daily routines, breaking down the barrier of having to find the time to visit a gallery or a museum. Stopping passersby in their tracks, these installations lift people’s heads up from their mobile devices or monotonous routines, challenging individuals to think differently and more deeply about the world around them. It also builds a sense of community by allowing individuals to share and participate in the collective experience of seeing, contemplating on, and interacting with the artwork.
‘I was sitting on a bench next to our current art project in Covent Garden with Ben Cullen Williams, and watched with so much joy as people came up to his work—smiling, responding, interacting, and sharing it,’ Tanguy says. ‘Of course, we will always prioritize health, education, and a roof over our heads, but giving people hope, a smile, and something that could make life more bearable is also important.’
She also expresses that even if there was a second lockdown, these outdoor art installations will enable people to continue to enjoy the experience of seeing art in the flesh.
The project not only ignites hope, but also addresses a range of challenges we face as a collective humanity and advocates for alternative perspectives through art. Some convey the crippling effects of COVID-19 on marginalized communities, unveiling the ways in which the pandemic has exposed the consequences of racism and inequality; some reflect on the increasing fragility of our over-exhausted planet; while others feature strong women to highlight the importance of every individual and inspire inclusivity in our communities.
Participating artists for the public art project include Lauren Baker, Mahtab Hussain, Àsìkò, David Aiu Servan Schreiber, Ben Cullen Williams, Leo Caillard, Ania Catherine and Dejha Ti, along with the poet Greta Bellamacina. Below we have included some photos from this dynamic series of public art, but we highly encourage you to seek out these electrifying installations and experience the magic yourself.
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Claudia is an art writer and curator based in London. With an artist-first ethos, Claudia aims to empower and cultivate women artists through curated content and creative strategy. She began her art career at Christie’s, where she developed and executed strategic partnerships with luxury brands such as Chanel and Bottega Veneta. She received her Master’s Degree in Art, Law, and Business from Christie’s Education, and her Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations from Stanford University. Originally from Hong Kong, she speaks Cantonese, Mandarin, and French.