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ART OF LONDON'S THE AUGMENTED GALLERY - West End, London

AUGMENTED REALITY ART GALLERY ACROSS THE WEST END LAUNCHES NEW ‘ART OF LONDON’ CULTURAL INITIATIVE


This week @londonbeautifullife went down to the National Gallery for an exciting outdoor tour around the West End.


Read below to find out more.

  • Stephen Mangan unveils virtual art gallery, the ‘Augmented Gallery’ in London

  • Interactive AR (augmented reality) art trail marks the launch of ‘Art of London’, a new cultural strategy for the West End and start of a season of public art for the area

  • Created by Heart of London Business Alliance, in partnership with some of the UK’s leading cultural institutions, ‘Art of London’ celebrates art in every form and showcases the vital role culture plays in society

  • Augmented Gallery is a unique collaboration between the National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, Royal Academy of Arts and Sky Arts

  • The Art of London Augmented Gallery app features commentary by institutes’ artists and curators, alongside entertainers and art lovers, Stephen Mangan and comedian James Acaster.

  • Download the app on iOS here and on Android here

6th May 2021, London – Actor and presenter Stephen Mangan today unveiled the art gallery of the future, as some of the West End’s leading institutions unite to display their masterpieces outdoors through the lens of augmented reality.

The Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year presenter officially opened The Augmented Gallery, an interactive art trail, using the latest in augmented reality technology, which marks the launch of ‘Art of London’, a new cultural strategy for the West End and start of a season of public art for the area.

Appearing outside the National Gallery, the first of twenty locations in the free and accessible public trail, Mangan revealed a life-sized augmented reality version of Anthony van Dyck’s ‘Equestrian Portrait of Charles I’, one of twenty masterpieces the public will be able to experience across a mile-long outdoor trail.

The Art of London Augmented Gallery is a unique collaboration between the National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, Royal Academy of Arts and Sky Arts. Each has contributed a diverse selection of classic and contemporary masterpieces to this innovative and safe way to enjoy some of the world’s greatest art in the open air, as the country and cultural institutions tentatively prepare to reopen.


Beginning at the National Gallery and ending at Fortnum & Mason on Piccadilly - taking in St. Martin’s Lane, Orange Street, Cecil Court, Piccadilly Circus, Princes Arcade and Jermyn Street along the way - The Augmented Gallery consists of twenty life-sized colourful frames and plaques on walls around the area, each of which will contain QR codes and unique markers to unlock timeless masterpieces framed in 3D.

Classic paintings and modern works featured from the gallery collections will include Titian, Vincent van Gogh, Alexandria Artemisia Gentileschi, Georges Pierre Seurat, Ishbel Myerscough, Shirin Neshat and Tracey Emin and portraits of iconic sitters from William Shakespeare to Malala Yousafzai.

The trail also features contemporary portraits of famous faces including Sir Tom Jones, Sir Ian McKellen, Elaine Paige, Nile Rodgers and Imelda Staunton, all by finalists and winners of Portrait Artist of the Year, which is free to air on Sky Arts and will return later this year.

All contained in a central Art of London Augmented Gallery app, the trail features insightful and entertaining audio commentaries on each classic painting, which includes curators from each of the galleries, along with a lighter touch from comedian and art lover James Acaster and Stephen Mangan himself.

Stephen Mangan, who has presented Portrait Artist of the Year since 2019, said: “I’m delighted to be part of the Augmented Gallery and to unveil this life-sized augmented masterpiece by Anthony van Dyck at the National Gallery.

“Presenting Portrait Artist of the Year has introduced me to so many incredibly talented contemporary artists and to see the likes of 2020 winner Christabel Blackburn and 2019 winner Duncan Shoosmith displayed in this app alongside greats like Van Gogh and Titian is a genuinely proud moment. This is such a great initiative that people can enjoy safely outdoors in the heart of London’s West End and I hope it introduces these timeless classics and contemporary masterpieces to new audiences.”

Ros Morgan, Chief Executive at Heart of London Business Alliance, said:

“We’re thrilled to launch the Art of London cultural strategy with this world first, a mile-long Augmented Gallery around the heart of London’s West End. This is a real landmark initiative that brings together some of London’s leading cultural institutions.

The West End has so much to offer in terms of culture, retail and leisure, but it has been disproportionately hit by the pandemic. Attracting the public back to the area safely and responsibly has never been more important and we hope that the Augmented Gallery will play some part in welcoming back visitors to explore and enjoy this open air art trail around this historic area so rich in art history.”

Director of the National Gallery Dr Gabriele Finaldi says "We are delighted to be taking part in The Augmented Gallery, as it gives us the chance to showcase some of the Nation’s favourite paintings out in the open for everyone to enjoy. By bringing a series of masterpieces to the West End through the lens of augmented reality, visitors to the area can enjoy a taste of the treasures we have inside the National Gallery. And of course, everyone is welcome to book their free tickets into the Gallery - just a few steps away - to experience the real paintings from when we, hopefully, are able to reopen our doors from 17 May."

Chief Operating Officer of the National Portrait Gallery Ros Lawler said, “The National Portrait Gallery is currently closed while essential building works take place on our major redevelopment project, Inspiring People, so we are thrilled to be a part of The Augmented Gallery and to be able to continue to share our Collection with those visiting the local area. It is a wonderful opportunity for people to explore some iconic and much-loved portraits from our Collection, such as Shakespeare and Mary Seacole and discover sitters associated with arts and culture in the West End including Noël Coward and Willard White.”


Director of Collections & Learning from the Royal Academy of Arts Rebecca Lyons said, “The Royal Academy Collection is constantly evolving and reflects the artists, past and present, who have been elected Royal Academicians or who have close links to the Academy itself. We are delighted to present these works for The Augmented Gallery that span across our 252-year history. We hope it will encourage viewers to come to the RA and visit both our permanent (free) galleries, our historic building and our temporary exhibitions. We plan to reopen on Tuesday 18 May and look forward to welcoming back our Friends and visitors”

The Augmented Gallery is a free to enjoy public art trail that can be accessed on all smartphone devices through the centralized app, available for iOS HERE and on Android HERE (or by searching ‘Art of London’ on your usual app store)

Portrait Artist of the Year returns to Sky Arts this autumn for its 8th season. Sky Arts is available free to air on Freeview channel 11.

About The Augmented Gallery:

The AR trail will feature the following locations, augmenting the classic paintings provided by the galleries:

  1. National Gallery on St Martins Street - Equestrian Portrait of Charles, by Anthony van Dyck from the National Gallery collection.

  2. National Gallery on St Martins Street - Self Portrait as Saint Catherine of Alexandria by Artemisia Gentileschi from the National Gallery collection

  3. National Portrait Gallery on Orange St - Malala Yousafzai by Shirin Neshat from the National Portrait Gallery Collection

  4. London Coliseum, home of English National Opera, 31 St. Martin’s Lane – William Shakespeare (The Chandos Portrait), associated with John Taylor from the National Portrait Gallery Collection

  5. 114 St. Martin’s Lane - Sir Tom Jones by Duncan Shoosmith from Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year

  6. 11-13 Cecil Court - Mary Seacole by Albert Charles Challen from the National Portrait Gallery Collection

  7. Peter Ellis Bookshop, 18 Cecil Court - Design by Angelica Kauffman from the Royal Academy collection

  8. Wyndham’s Theatre, Charing Cross Road - Sir Ian McKellen by Christian Hook from Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year

  9. Noel Coward Theatre, 85-88 St. Martin’s Lane - Noël Coward by Clemence Dane from the National Portrait Gallery Collection

  10. 130 Jermyn Street - Bathers at Asnieres by Georges Seurat from the National Gallery collection

  11. St James Market & St Albans Street - Collective Unconscious by Eileen Agar from the Royal Academy collection

  12. 1 St. James’ Market - We Move in Her Way: Dancers by Sonia Boyce from the Royal Academy collection

  13. Agent F Florist, 3 St. James’ Market - Diana and Actaeon by Titian from the National Gallery collection

  14. 120 Jermyn Street - Spring by Mary Moser from the Royal Academy collection

  15. Old Tower Records building, Piccadilly Circus - Trying to Find You 1 by Tracey Emin from the Royal Academy collection

  16. Princes Arcade, St. James - Willard White by Ishbel Myerscough from the National Portrait Gallery Collection

  17. Duke St & Jermyn Street - Nile Rodgers by Christabel Blackburne from Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year

  18. 76 Jermyn Street - Imelda Staunton by Liam Dickinson from Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year

  19. 34 Jermyn Street - Elaine Paige by Toby Michel from Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year

  20. Fortnum & Mason, 181 Piccadilly - Sunflowers by Vincent Van Gogh from the National Gallery collection

About Art of London:

Created by Heart of London Business Alliance in partnership with some of the UK’s leading cultural institutions, Art of London is a major new consumer arts initiative, championing the cultural sector, celebrating art in every form and showcasing the vital role culture plays in society. Visit artoflondon.co.uk for more information.

About Sky Arts:

Sky Arts exists to bring more art to more people across the UK. In 2020, with the creative industries under serious threat, we threw open our doors to make the channel free for everyone to watch. We’ve redoubled our mission to increase access to the arts and we’re committed to getting everyone involved as the industry recovers. The fact is, we need the arts now like never before, and Sky Arts brings them straight to your living room.

You can watch Sky Arts for free on Freeview channel 11 and Freesat channel 147. If you’ve got Sky or a Now TV entertainment pass, you can also watch over 2,000 hours of shows exclusively on demand.

About Portrait Artist of the Year:

For the eighth series of Portrait Artist of the Year, hosted by Stephen Mangan, a new batch of amateur and professional artists chosen from thousands of entrants, compete to see who has what it takes to impress our distinguished judges – Tai Shan Schierenberg, Kathleen Soriano and Kate Bryan. We welcome another 24 distinguished writers, actors, musicians and TV personalities to sit for the portraits. Nine artists compete in each heat, and heat winners go on to compete for the commission of a lifetime.

About The National Gallery:

The National Gallery is one of the greatest art galleries in the world. Founded by Parliament in 1824, the Gallery houses the nation’s collection of paintings in the Western European tradition from the late 13th to the early 20th century. The collection includes works by Bellini, Cézanne, Degas, Leonardo, Monet, Raphael, Rembrandt, Renoir, Rubens, Titian, Turner, Van Dyck, Van Gogh and Velázquez. The Gallery’s key objectives are to enhance the collection, care for the collection and provide the best possible access to visitors. Admission free. More at nationalgallery.org.uk

About Heart of London Business Alliance:

Since 2001 Heart of London Business Alliance has been cementing London’s position as the world’s leading cultural destination by working on behalf of over 500 businesses and 100 property owners in the Leicester Square & Piccadilly Circus, Piccadilly & St James’s and St Martin’s areas of the West End.

Home to galleries, theatres, restaurants, cafés, bars, world-famous shops, cultural institutions and associations, the area is truly unique with an experience-based economy that caters to every taste. From the BAFTA headquarters to the National Portrait Gallery and the Royal Academy of Arts, the area’s cultural heritage stretches back centuries, yet it remains at the forefront of the arts.

As a not-for-profit, Heart of London Business Alliance is focused on securing the long-term commercial wellbeing of the area. Through area promotion, business support and advocacy they champion members’ interests and ensure the West End remains truly world-class. For more information visit: heartoflondonbid.london


About The National Portrait Gallery:

The National Portrait Gallery was founded in 1856 to encourage the appreciation and understanding of the people who have made and are making British history and culture. Today it promotes engagement with portraiture to a wide-ranging public by conserving, growing and sharing the world’s largest collection of portraits. The Gallery in St Martin’s Place, London is currently closed until spring 2023, while essential building works take place on the Inspiring People redevelopment project, which will transform the Gallery, including a complete refurbishment of the building and a new learning centre. During the closure period, the Gallery will continue to share its Collection through its digital channels and a series of nationwide partnerships and collaborations. www.npg.org.uk


About The Royal Academy of Arts:

The Royal Academy of Arts was founded by King George III in 1768. It has a unique position in being an independent, privately funded institution led by eminent artists and architects whose purpose is to be a clear, strong voice for art and artists. Its public programme promotes the creation, enjoyment and appreciation of the visual arts through exhibitions, education and debate.

The Royal Academy is an independent charity. It does not receive revenue funding from the government so is reliant upon the support of its visitors, donors, sponsors, patrons and loyal Friends. Royalacademy.org.uk.


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