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New Covent Garden Market launches third Vitrine art commission

‘BLOOM!’ by BLKBRD Collective, New Covent Garden Market Vitrine Art Commission 2020 Photo by Christa Holka

VINCI St. Modwen (VSM) is seeking proposals from artists for the final edition of Vitrine; a paid commission for a 20m long public art space on Nine Elms Lane. A space that sees 25,000 vehicles pass by every day.

After two successful years, we return with the final iteration of Vitrine; London’s freshest art commission celebrating London’s oldest wholesale market. Through Vitrine, we are lifting the lid on the market to explore the colossal pick of fresh fruit, vegetables and flowers that you find every day at New Covent Garden Market.

Vitrine Art Commission is initiated and funded by VINCI St. Modwen, in partnership with Covent Garden Market Authority (CGMA) and delivered in collaboration with Art Night, London’s all-night free contemporary art festival.

The space

New Covent Garden Market is the UK’s largest fresh produce market. Its community of traders keep a discerning London fed and flowered by supplying the capital’s chefs and florists with wonderful fruit, vegetables, flowers and plants.

The Flower Market sits directly on Nine Elms Lane opposite the famed Battersea Power Station. The building façade has a 20m x 5m vitrine that is now an established public art space. The vitrine sees 25,000 vehicles pass by every day – that’s over 9 million a year – and many people walking by too. This is a vast art canvas with an enormous public audience.

The brief

We are looking for artwork proposals that celebrate the themes of fruit, vegetables, flowers and/or plants. The artwork should serve to build a closer relationship between the market and Londoners by putting the spotlight on the wonderful produce that makes the market so renowned (see ‘Background’ below for more details).

The commission can feature photography, painting, text work or any other two-dimensional medium. The artwork will be replicated onto perforated vinyl sheeting and affixed to the frontage of the market on Nine Elms Lane. The Vitrine dimensions are 20,610mm x 4,800mm.

‘Still Life Citrus’ by Eyal Granit , New Covent Garden Market Vitrine Art Commission 2019 Photo by Tom Carter

Background: A place of boundless produce

This is New Covent Garden Market. 37 acres of night-time industrial activity juxtaposed with the natural product it sells. It’s here where the fields join the city. Where the natural world enters the urban environment.                                                

New Covent Garden Market is London’s A-Z of fruit, veg and flowers. Now that doesn’t mean apple, banana, carnation, though of course it stocks those too. Down on the market, A is for Wild Asparagus, White Jerusalem Artichokes and Anemone Mistral Bordeaux. B is for Bergamot, Buddha’s Hand and Butterfly Ranunculus. And C is Cicorino Rosso, Chervil Root and Campanula Champion Blue.                                            

When the traders compare apples to oranges – though they know they shouldn’t – they’re comparing Discovery, Russet and Zari to Valencia, Cara Cara and Blood. And when they’re asked for mushrooms, they say mousseron, trompette, morel or cep?                                

As the suppliers to London’s incredibly talented and ambitious chefs and florists, the market’s responsibility to them and to London is to bring the most delicious, beautiful, local and seasonal, obscure and hard-to-find fruit, veg and flowers that are grown in the UK and across the world.                                                       

With a long legacy of supplying London’s best businesses with the finest fresh food and flowers, the last few months have seen the market face one of the biggest challenges in its history. The Covid-19 lockdown dramatically affected trade, with an overnight closure to the hospitality industry. However, the market’s legacy has been strengthened by traders’ determination and resilience as they continued to feed London. Several businesses were able to rapidly react to the demand for fresh produce, moving from a business-to-business proposition to serving consumers directly via home delivery boxes of fresh fruit, vegetables and lots more. It opened the market to a new set of clients who are now busy spreading the word about the wonderful, diverse, produce that New Covent Garden Market has to offer.

How to enter

Entries are open from 11th March 2021 to 27th May 2021. Call for entries will be closed on Thursday 27th May at 6pm.

The application form and guidance notes are located on the New Covent Garden Market website.