'Reclaiming public spaces': Islington's free nonconformist street party

From 2021's WXSP, Futuristic Space Funk by Mr Cenz, and a piece by Voyder at Whitecross Street

From 2021's WXSP, Futuristic Space Funk by Mr Cenz, and a piece by Voyder at Whitecross Street - Credit: André Langlois

It may be peaceful in the picture above, but this weekend Whitecross Street will be packed with entertainment, market stalls and 25 street artists creating work live.

Whitecross Street Party (WXSP) returns for a 12th year, with the theme of “reclaiming public spaces”. 

The free event is on Saturday and Sunday (July 9-10), midday to 6pm.

It will feature artists from the leading female street art group WOM Collective, a new world-record piece by Perspicere, a new piece by Voyder and a collaboration between Bristol superstars Piro, Epok and Eko.

WXSP is inspired by the history of the area, including the Bunhill burial ground where 19th century nonconformists like the freethinking painter and poet William Blake are buried.

"Present day nonconformists in the form of top UK street artists descend on Whitecross Street to paint live each year, bringing a socially-conscious, rebellious and for-the-people vibe which is the core of the event," say organisers.

Artwork is mounted for a year on buildings along Whitecross Street in the Rise of the Nonconformists exhibition.

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This year women come to the fore, starting with a specially commissioned poster by Lours, a street artist and co-founder of Womcollective, who created a piece featuring the nonconformist inspirational, Jamaican-born and London-raised community activist Olive Morris.

Other female street artists painting live include Sophie Mess, Carleen de Sozer, Pixie, Jelly J and Neonita.

WXSP will host the creation of a 3m-wide circular, world-record piece by street-artist Perspicere, who creates pieces entirely with thread. Perspicere will use an estimated 45 miles of thread in the work.

New community engagement scheme WXSP Ecological Street Commons has been supported by Arts Council England and will include free activities, working with artists, local schools and community partners.

Five artists' projects have been introduced to schools and community spaces in the run-up to the party weekend, and drop-in events will be hosted on both days: City Pollinators (urban plants and insects), Sweatshop (design, textiles and make-your own sweatshirt), Breathing Streets (street art), Wasted (foraging and city food waste) and Wish-a-Future (bunting from recycling for the party).

The Music Stage and the Words Stage both return, featuring performances by Islington locals and guests from further afield.