Kingston town centre is awash with colour as more vacant units have had their shop windows transformed with unique and vibrant artwork to delight and inspire residents, employees and visitors alike in Kingston. The artwork was produced by talented students from the world-renowned Kingston School of Art as part of the #KingstonCanvas project, organised through a collaboration of Kingston University’s student-powered creative agency Studio KT1 and Kingston First, the town centre’s Business Improvement District.
Ellice Thatcher “Kingston Calling”
Imogen Ashby “Kingston Illustrated”
Kirsten Henly, Chief Executive of Kingston First said:
“We’re delighted to see these new fantastic artworks brightening up the town centre and showcasing student talent. We know from our research with consumers that vacant units can create negative perceptions of the town centre. While Kingston town centre actually has less vacant units than the UK average (9% vs 11%), our vacant units project seeks to address this concern, and we are working to identify and activate these spaces in the town centre, exploring options for meanwhile use projects that support local community groups and start-ups, encouraging creativity and innovation while also supporting the local economy.”
Claire Selby, Studio KT1 and Enterprise Projects Lead at Kingston School of Art, said:
“Since Studio KT1’s inception we’ve been keen to showcase work from Kingston School of Art more visibly in the town centre and our strategic partnership with Kingston First allows us to continue to do that. The opportunity to display creative work on a large scale and in accessible public spaces is so important in the current climate – both for the local community and for our students”.
Footfall numbers in the South West London town see Kingston often performing more strongly year-on-year than its London and UK market town counterparts, but the economic impact of Covid-19 continues to affect businesses throughout the country and the presence of vacant units is noticeable in towns and cities across the UK. Although Kingston’s vacancy rate is lower than the UK average (9% vs 11%), Kingston First are working on a project to activate and transform vacant units in the town centre, which involves identifying opportunities and building relationships with landlords to activate the units, either as meanwhile space for community use or local business start-ups, or using the windows as a ‘blank canvas’ for artwork to brighten up the town.
Several long-term vacant units have now had their windows wrapped in unique artwork, created by Kingston School of Art students, with the latest designs drawing inspiration from two key Kingston landmarks, David Mach RA’s 1989 ‘Out of Order’ red telephone box sculpture and Kingston Bridge on the riverside. The bright and bold artwork is visible across the town centre and shines a spotlight on the great things about Kingston; reflecting the students interpretation of Kingston: Past, Present and Future and includes a celebration of its rich history, the creative and cultural side and sense of community spirit felt during the onset of the pandemic in 2020.
To find out more about the vacant units project, please email firstname.lastname@example.org