London’s streets are looking more colourful than ever, thanks in no small part to artist Camille Walala…
Lead image: White City Place x Camille Walala
Camille Walala, known for her joyful use of colour and pattern, seems to be on a one-woman mission to add the colour back to London’s streets after the dull, grey months of lockdown, with three exciting new public art projects spanning east to west.
The French artist, who set up a studio in Hackney in 2009, has unveiled two impressive projects of late, in White City and Leyton, with a third set to launch in Canary Wharf as part of the inaugural London Mural Festival in September.
In White City, west London, Walala unveiled two uniquely-designed pedestrian crossings and seven striking murals in her signature style that combines geometric patterns with primary colours.
Revealed in early August, the eye-catching pedestrian crossings on South Africa Road and Wood Lane, titled Les Jumeaux (The Twins), are complemented by new murals adorning the façade of the WestWorks building.
With a right turn out of both Wood Lane and White City underground stations, passers-by and visitors are led by the artwork directly to White City Place which, along with the neighbouring Television Centre, is emerging as a new destination for London following extensive redevelopment.
The artist, who started out in textiles, draws inspiration from the strong functional shapes on the facades of buildings. Les Jumeaux, with its vibrant colours and visually arresting patterns, connects the artist’s distinctively joyful style with the rich architectural history of the area.
‘This was a really exciting commission because I got to explore the area so much more than I have in the past, and bring colourful, joyful patterns to this part of London,’ said Walala.
‘This was a really exciting commission because I got to explore the area so much more than I have in the past, and bring colourful, joyful patterns to this part of London’
‘I like when my projects begin with this element of curiosity. I was inspired by the rich architectural details and began working in my sketchbook, making drawings and collages, which grew into the bigger scale installation. It’s a balancing process to find happy accidents along the way while keeping the style simple and bold.’
Commissioned by Stanhope, Mitsui Fudosan and Aimco, Les Jumeaux is Walala’s first major public outdoor artwork in west London and is part of White City Place’s wider cultural programme, following design duo Craig & Karl’s colourful transformation of a disused petrol station on Wood Lane, and Richard Wood’s Holiday Home in Television Centre.
Back over in the east, closer to Walala’s Hackney studio, is another exiting new community art project called the Walala Parade.
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The idea, to turn a row of shops on Leyton High Road into a giant mural, was hatched by local businesses Deeney’s (Scottish street-food maestros with a killer haggis toastie), animation studio Mighty Elk, and community arts group Wood Street Walls.
The aim was to engage the community in a project that would brighten up the pubic space, stimulate footfall and inspire a sense of civic pride. Leyton locals really got on board, swiftly crowdfunding the Walala Parade into a very colourful reality.
Walala will be making her mark in Canary Wharf, wrapping Adams Plaza Bridge – the Star Wars-esque bridge that leads to Crossrail Place – in enchanting geometric shapes and bright colours.
‘This is my first bridge!’ said Walala. ‘Adams Plaza Bridge is a fascinating structure so I wanted to use what was there as a canvas.
‘East London means so much to me,’ she added. ‘I have lived here for over 20 years and my project in Shoreditch launched my career’
‘The architecture of the long tunnel-like bridge is really inspiring and I wanted to accentuate the feeling of this exaggerated perspective. The palette and patterns create a sense of movement and surprise. I hope it brings a smile to all of the people that will pass it every day.
‘East London means so much to me,’ she added. ‘I have lived here for over 20 years and my project in Shoreditch launched my career. Now I’m excited to put my own stamp on the iconic Canary Wharf.’
The bridge’s pronounced perspective is already a huge draw for photographers, and Walala’s transformation or London Mural Festival will undoubtedly create the Instagram phenomenon of autumn.
Camille Walala’s mission is to disseminate joy through colour and pattern, and we reckon, in London at least, she’s totally pulled it off.