Portobello Wall public art project

The Portobello Wall Public Art Project

The Portobello Wall Public Art Project is an annual commission for a 100m stretch of brick wall. This wall links two of the most vibrant and well-known market areas in London: Portobello Road and Golborne Road.

2019 marks the twelfth edition of the Portobello Wall Public Art Project. Proposals were invited via open submission that responded to the theme of Rhythm and Sound:

‘From the dance-steps and steel-pan beats of Notting Hill Carnival to the bustle and banter of Portobello and Golborne Road markets; from momentous performances at the Tabernacle to the original Rough Trade Record shop; Rhythm and Sound is woven into the rich cultural heritage, identity and place of North Kensington.’

Guitar Man

Guitar Man © Wayne Crichlow

2019 Commission Winner – Tony Thomas

Tony Thomas is the winner of the twelfth edition of the Portobello Wall Public Art Project. His winning proposal embraces technology to make digital links between historic and present day images representing ‘Rhythm and Sound’.

Using QR codes and augmented reality Tony brings the sounds of Portobello Road and the surrounding area in North Kensington to life.

Pan Man Kevin Joseph

Image: The Pan Man ©

In Tony’s words,

“The commission has allowed me to connect to many different communities in West London. Each one makes and enjoys different music from around the world. This includes leading London jazz players, Steelpan from the Caribbean, punk, and digital music. Portobello Road reflects the richly diverse community of London and it has been great to be welcomed by all and engage them in my work. Rhythm and Sound in North Kensington is a community-wide positive thread that runs through the history of the area and is worth celebrating. As John McLaughlin says, ‘The mathematics of rhythm are universal. They don’t belong to any particular culture’.”

Hip Hop © Shaban, Krew B Boys

Hip Hop © Shaban, Krew B Boys


With Thanks: Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Arts Service, Carnival Village Trust, Certain Blacks, The Audio Engineer Society, Portobello Radio, The British Association of Steel Bands, Coloursonics, Shannon Ribbons, and Jean-Paul Pirie for technical direction. QR Code illustrator: Martin Abel.

Photographers and illustrators: Stephen Spark, Wayne Crichlow, Jason Garcia, Benjamin Salmon, Carl Gabriel, Peoples Sound, Tara Hobson, Kevin Joseph, Nick Anthony Fiorenza, Moose Azim, Bread and Shutter, Collin Hill, Jim Linwood, John Joe Coffey, Oxford Gardens Primary School, Benjamin Salmon, and Victor Novais.

Special thanks to Janet Kendall, Greg Hunter, and Emelia Thomas

Outreach programme

The installation is accompanied by a rolling programme of musical events and opportunities. This will run from 2019-20. A variety is on offer, from informative digital sound engineering sessions, to steel-pan music workshops.

Visit the installation website to find out what’s on.

About the artist: Tony Thomas

Tony Thomas is an artist and sound engineer based in Notting Hill, with over 30 years experience in the creative industries.

Training and education

Tony trained in creative and performing arts at the University of Northumbria. He then studied jazz at Berklee College of Music in Boston, USA.

What he does now

He was the former artistic director of Beat Dis jazz collective. This was a music and arts organisation based at The Tabernacle, Powis Square W11. He continues to work as an educator, sound artist and technical developer.

Ten years of the Wall

The Portobello Wall Public Art Project was initiated in 2009. In the ten years since the 100m stretch of brick wall has hosted vibrant installations responding to a set theme each year.

The installations are a talking point amongst stall holders and visitors to both the Portobello and Golborne Road Markets. They add to the eclectic feel of the area. The Golborne Forum has supported the Portobello Wall Art project for since 2012. It takes part in the selection, listens to pitches by diverse artists, and helps with broadening the reach of the commission.

Find out more about the history of the project:

Portobello Wall Public Art Project 10 Year History[PDF] (file size 1.87 MB)