On a cold winter’s night at the end of 2014, a gaggle of ‘arty’ types gathered at the top-end of New Bond Street. In contrast to the Christmas gift-seekers who are buzzing past with large bags, this little group were not here to late night shop. Instead they had come to toast the launch of something a little more creative – the Bond Street Windows project; a series of contemporary artworks running on the façades of no’s 67-71. And to make things feel more like a private view (albeit outdoors on a busy shopping street), homemade whisky macs cunningly disguised in paper coffee cups were handed out amongst the small crowd – or perhaps I shouldn’t be telling?
Bond Street Windows is a site specific work organised by London-based Foxall Studio, best known for producing work for leading fashion and art brands. The window installations, which features work from four UK-based artists appears on a row of juxtaposing façades and will run until the end of this year. The buildings, four in total and measuring 50 metres across, are currently vacant as work to construct the subterranean Crossrail construction continues deep beneath the Bond Street pavements.
“We wanted to make a set of artwork that would generate enough intrigue throughout the year or so of it being installed,” says Andrew Foxall who curated the project with his brother Iain. “It was an important benchmark for all the work and the result is hopefully artwork of enough integrity and novelty that succeeds that aim,” he explains before topping up my paper cup with more of the potent toddy.
The works run from left to right – in the direction of Oxford Street to Piccadilly. On the first building, a tall skinny edifice, the Foxall team spent a day in the studio with make-up artist Isamaya Ffrench to create her vibrant façade images. Using her installation as a window on the future of beauty trends, Isamaya pressed her face on the glass of a flatbed scanner to create images intended to provoke thoughts on the future of decorating the face and body. As a result, her misshapen lips are smudged with red lipstick and eyebrows are smeared with aqua blue eye shadow. It’s Warhol-esque and I like it.
The next façade is by Robi Rodriguez, a fashion photographer who studied film in LA and now shoots for some of the best fashion magazines around. The stills in his windows piece are taken from a recent film he shot for London-based fashion magazine Dazed and Confused. They depict prim-looking models perched at their desks in an outdated office environment.
Back at the gorilla-style private view, Greek-born textile designer Teresa Georgallis is craning her neck to look up at her work (produced as a collaboration with Universal Assembly Unit), which is bouncing around on the brick façade before us. Her digital fabric pattern, which looks as if it has been woven on a jacquard loom, responds to sound input and is encoded with inaudible sound frequencies outside the human spectrum. The sounds are derived from noises recorded on Bond Street. She tells me her next project will be designing a collection of one-off handbags and talk quickly switches to the bags we are both carrying – hers is vintage Chloe and looks cool and well-worn.
All images © Ruth Ward
Finally, on the last and the largest of the empty storefronts, ceramicist Jin Eui Kim, projection features huge swirling patterns with monochrome stripes, reminiscent of the British artist Bridget Riley’s early work. By now it’s getting even colder and the group begins to peel off in different directions. But I know I’ll be back. I’ve already decided to return tomorrow and see the work in sobering daylight. And when I do, my hunch is right. Thanks to the stunning imagery, these beautiful old storefronts really do spring to life.