How about art in a raw environment? Exposed to the elements and available for all to see? Bayswater Road Artists is a world famous show of pavement art on the railings of Kensington Gardens.
Over 150 artists put their work on display. If you like what you see, you can buy from directly from the artist, ensuring they receive 100% of the reward for their hard work. We spoke to Haydn from Bayswater Road Artists to find out more.
Tell us a little about yourself.
Bayswater Road Open-Air Art Exhibition is one of the world’s oldest and most famous shows of its type in the world. Every Sunday, artists meet on a stretch of the road between Lancaster Gate and Queensway to exhibit and sell their original work. It’s not just for Londoners – some come from as far as Darlington and Bristol! Think of it as London’s Golden Mile of art!
How did the Bayswater Road exhibition get started? What’s the story behind it?
The show has been running for some 50 years. In the early days it was unregulated and artists simply tried their luck, arriving the previous evening and sleeping in their cars so as to be sure of a pitch the next morning! Later on, the show became licensed – which it remains to this day – so artists are ensured a regular and secure place to trade. Over the years, many artists have been discovered on the road, by galleries, agents and publishers scouring the show for talent.
What can people expect to find there?
There’s a huge variety of work on show, from traditional landscapes, portraiture and flower paintings through nudes and figure work to contemporary abstract and surrealism. All work is original – no reproductions of any kind are permitted – so buyers can be sure they are purchasing a unique piece of art
What kind of art do you exhibit?
When licensing was introduced in the early days, strict parameters were established with Westminster City Council. Only ‘flat art’ – paintings and drawings – may be exhibited. There are a very few craft pitches, but the number of these, and what may be offered on them, is strictly controlled by the licensing authority
What else can people buy there?
Only paintings and drawings and a very small amount of craft items are available. Since the introduction of licensing, Bayswater was established as an art exhibition, rather than a market. This has enabled us to maintain the quality and consistency of the work displayed. You won’t find mass-produced souvenirs at our show, and no clothing
What are the major drawbacks to an outdoor art exhibition? How do you cope with the English weather?
Bayswater Artists are a hardy bunch! Weather doesn’t daunt us. An awning over the paintings and plenty of hot coffee ensures that exhibitors brave the elements no matter what! Good sales can still be made in the rain.
How do you compete with the plethora of exhibitions in London?
In a cultural hub such as London, of course we are up against healthy competition. But at Bayswater we have something unique. Only through us can you buy all original work direct from the artist at studio prices, free of the hefty commission charged by galleries. The atmosphere on the road is friendly and unpretentious. Where else can you amble down a tree-lined pavement, the Royal Parks on one side and Bayswater’s noble architecture on the other, chat with artists and come home with a unique gem under your arm? And at Bayswater, you can be sure you are buying only from the artist, not a dealer
What are your hopes and ambitions for the future of the exhibition?
We want to take our illustrious exhibition right forward into the 21st Century, showcasing young and emerging artists as well as more established names. With this in mind, we are constantly seeking new artists to join us – there are plenty of vacant pitches, and a vibrant community ready to greet all new recruits! It’s also worth mentioning that many artists now offer modern payment methods, inviting credit or debit card transactions via a smartphone card reader. We actively publicise the show on social media, which helps to promote coverage of the exhibition worldwide
What else do people need to know?
The show runs every Sunday on the Bayswater Road, London W2, from just east of Lancaster Gate Station right up to Queensway in the west; these are the two stations which are best to use to reach us. Trading begins from 8am, and we’re open until the light fades, around 4pm in winter but later in summer of course. Parking is free all day on the Road, making transport of artwork back home easy! We have a website where we are always happy to hear from members of the public seeking information, or of course from new artists. We are on Twitter at @BayswaterART and on Facebook. Best of all, come down and see us and find out what it’s all about!
Does the Baywater Road exhibition sound good to you? Have you been and if so, what did you think? Let us know in the comments box.