Regent’s Park is an oasis on the northern side of London, just inside the Underground’s Zone One limits. Designed by Markham Nesfield in 1866, the English style gardens are a hot spot of dog walkers, lunch break joggers, and sunbathers on the warmer days in the Summer.
As early as May, though, a transformation begins as the park is made ready for the London’s annual Frieze Art Fair which takes place primarily in July, August, and September. Frieze offers various artists and curator talks, boasts thousands of artworks to view and buy, and showcases the art world and market of the moment for ticket holders to experience. The fair is now expanding to New York and Los Angeles as it continues to grow and evolve. To say it is exciting to be a part of is an understatement.
2017, though, saw the introduction of a new facet of Frieze: Frieze Sculpture. According to the Curator of Frieze Sculpture, Clare Lilley, the installation of sculptures in Regent’s was a resounding hit from the beginning. It offers the opportunity for the public and collectors alike to experience contemporary sculptures in the less traditional setting of a manicured public park. While public art is not uncommon in a city such as London, the temporary installation of artworks creates a completely different atmosphere in Regent’s. Daily visitors take pause, noticing an area of the park that is otherwise lost in the monotony of routine while those coming specifically for Frieze see Regent’s, potentially for the first time, in a unique manner.
Frieze Sculpture 2018 consisted of works by 25 artists spanning five continents which included Larry Achiampong, John Baldessari, Rana Begum, Yoan Capote, James Capper, Elmgreen & Dragset, Tracey Emin, Tim Etchells, Rachel Feinstein, Barry Flanagan, Laura Ford, Dan Graham, Haroon Gunn-Salie, Bharti Kher, Kimsooja, Michele Mathison, Virginia Overton, Simon Periton, Kathleen Ryan, Sean Scully, Conrad Shawcross, Monika Sosnowska, Kiki Smith, Hugo Wilsonand Richard Woods. Artists were selected through an open call through international galleries.
Artworks negotiate the public space of the park in different manners. Some artists, such as Tracey Emin acknowledge the tension between art in public spaces and the issues it can provoke through A Moment Without You (2017), an elegant display of bronze birds placed atop slender poles to remember the passing of a friend. While others explore the issues of identity as Bharti Kher does in Intermediary Family (2018). More selected works can be found here with commentary by Lilley.
Frieze Sculptures brings the inside world of the Frieze Art Fair into the open for people of all kinds to experience. The boundaries of the art fair and the gallery are pushed into the open; while the sculptures fall into the realm of public art, they maintain the air of gallery works. Maybe this is due to the atmosphere of Regent’s Park, maybe it is because of the Frieze name. Either way, as Frieze Sculpture continues in years to come it will be increasingly interesting to see how artists handle the space between that which is public and that which is the gallery.