Art of London, a new cultural initiative for the West End, and the Royal Academy of Arts have collaborated on a unique and accessible art takeover for the Piccadilly area, seeing the global destination transformed into a canvas for one of the biggest public art takeovers the capital has ever seen.

From 21 July – 31 August 2021, the area around Piccadilly will be transformed by 30 overhanging flags, 13 pedestrian crossings (the largest ever number of art crossings to take place in one area), as well as regular takeovers of the 780 sqm Piccadilly Lights. Audiences will be able to access and participate in a special Augmented Reality 10-screen experience and audio sync via their mobile phones. This will be the first time this technology has been used on the iconic landmark.

Five artists associated with the Royal Academy, Michael Armitage, Vanessa Jackson RA, Isaac Julien CBE RA, Farshid Moussavi OBE RA and Yinka Shonibare CBE RA have been carefully selected to transform the area and to welcome people back to the West End after the COVID-19 lockdown period. The artists involved were allocated a specific area to design, where they could choose to repurpose an existing artwork or create something completely new.

Michael Armitage, Farshid Moussavi OBE RA and Yinka Shonibare CBE RA have designed the art for 30 hanging flags positioned along the famous cultural hub of Piccadilly. All three artists have very distinct and different backgrounds and mediums, yet their chosen pieces work in harmony together, with the tones, shapes and designs complementing one another in a celebratory sequence of colour. The hanging flags will be on display at the same time as Michael Armitage’s exhibition, Paradise Edict, at the Royal Academy. Yinka Shonibare is also the coordinator for this year’s annual and 253rd Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy, which will open in September 2021.

Michael Armitage says: “Three of my images have been used for flags that will hang over Piccadilly. One is made from a painting honouring the work of key workers in London. It’s a painting of four of the refuse collectors in Hackney, near my studio, who worked throughout the pandemic, putting themselves at risk as a result. It’s an honour to be able to celebrate the people of London, as we welcome people back to the iconic area of Piccadilly.”

Farshid Moussavi OBE RA says: “”My four prints are two-dimensional representations of La Folie Divine, a curvilinear apartment block we (Farshid Moussavi Architecture) designed in Montpellier, France. The pinks and yellows are inspired by the season of summer and, as visitors to Piccadilly walk down the street, they’ll see the shades changing slightly from one canvas to another.”