Research: Borough Group and Art in Public Spaces / by Theresa Kneppers

Borough Group Outdoor Exhibition.JPG

In 1948, members of the Borough Road group exhibited paintings and drawings at an open air exhibition at the Victoria Embankment Gardens. This was covered by the South London Press.

The Open Air Exhibition of Paintings was organised by the London County Council and the intention was for amateur and student painters to exhibit and sell their works. Alongside the painting exhibition, an Open Air Sculpture Exhibition was organised in Battersea Park with commissioned artists.

The idea of having works of art was a part of a Labour policy to make art accessible and to move art into easily accessed spaces, such as public parks. The focus was on the sculpture exhibitions.

Today, the practice of exhibiting paintings outside might bring associations with paintings sold to tourists on holiday.

To have paintings exhibited in a park in London would be uncommon. Using public spaces for art is an interesting idea beyond cultural regeneration and sculptures put up by developers to ‘brighten up’ areas in need of regeneration.

In today’s London, many public spaces and parks are privately owned, potentially restricting the public’s access to and use of the space. These semi-public spaces are known as privately owned public spaces (POPS) and are usually monitored by security firms.

Could an outdoor painting exhibition work in today’s London? Would it be relevant?

Eyres, Patrick; Russell, Fiona. (2006) Sculpture and the Garden; Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.; pp. 139