RA250 Flags: Celebrating Art in the West End | St James's London

Art & Theatre

RA250 Flags: Celebrating Art in the West End

The streets of St James’s are currently adorned with works by some of the country’s top artists. Here’s why

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To mark the Royal Academy’s 250th anniversary, this year’s prestigious Summer Exhibition is spilling out onto the streets of St James’s and the wider West End.

Four acclaimed artists, each a distinguished member of the Academy, have created a combined collection of 200 flags to mark the institution’s quarter century.

Look up, and you’ll see bespoke contributions from Cornelia Parker, Grayson Perry, Rosie Wylie and Joe Tilson adorning Regent Street St James’s, Piccadilly, Regent Street and Bond Street throughout the summer.

Cornelia Parker’s Regent Street St James’s flags are taken from her One Day This Glass Will Break series, which she describes as “recent photogravure prints I made using familiar everyday objects.” But, she continues “my still lives are not so still, the prints I created capture moments of flux. The images become re-animated when the wind blows.”

Grayson Perry’s pieces line Piccadilly, and stylistically, have been inspired by the Asafo flags traditionally made by the Fante people of West Africa.

They depict an assortment of subjects, ranging “from selfies and shopping to Oscar Wilde and my cat Kevin,” he says. The works are a combination of “doodles and sketches that came to me spontaneously,” he says. “Mainly I wanted to fill the street with lively colour.”

Meanwhile, Rose Wylie decided to use details of her recent Lolita’s House series for the flags of Bond Street. They beautifully depict her ongoing fascination with the shifting nature of memory and the multi-layered external associations that become attached to it over time.

Finally, over on Regent Street, Joe Tilson drew inspiration from his paintings of “the historical architecture and churches of Venice,” a city that has inspired him since his first visit in the 1950s. The paintings themselves will also be on display in the Summer Exhibition 2018.