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Saturday, August 8, 2020
Portobello Road Mural by Anastasia Russa

Waiting for a wall of wonders on Portobello Road


Walls are having a moment. President Trump believes they’ll make his country great again; computer-users put their trust in electronic firewalls; populist politicians build virtual walls of hate and distrust between communities.

But in North Kensington one wall is connecting, not dividing, communities, and its aim is celebration not separation. Since 2009 the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea (RBKC) has sponsored an art installation on a 100-metre-long, 2m-high brick wall between Portobello Road and Golborne Road. RBKC estimates that the wall is seen by 1.3 million people a year, which would put it at number 12 in the list of the UK’s most visited free visitor attractions!

Past installations have turned the structure into a record collection (2010), celebrated tea and coffee (2012), portrayed aspects of Carnival (Fiona Hawthorne in 2013) and commemorated 150 years of market trading in the area (2015).

This year’s theme is Rhythm and Sound, and the artist’s brief suggests it should take in the “dance-steps and steel-pan beats of Notting Hill Carnival… performances at the Tabernacle [and] the original Rough Trade Record shop”.

Soca News has been given a glimpse of some of the exciting ideas that are likely to be incorporated into the wall, but we will keep those under our editorial hat until the final design is unveiled in the second week of July. Watch this space to find out what’s happening to that space.