Written by Serena Esiri-Bloom, North Kensington local
Every year InTRANSIT Festival brings the best of the arts into the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. K and C is one of London’s most connected and busiest areas; it is near the heart of the city and packed with energy, in part, due to the fact that there is an estimated 190,000 residents.
I have been lucky enough to spend 21 years in this stretch of London. When my parents moved to the North of the borough there were raised eyebrows: this was the heyday of Notting Hill as the central pulse of bohemia in London – not the respectable, polished are that it is today. This was mainly due to the mix between the diverse cultures of the residents in the area and the influx of artists and intellectual lefties looking for cheaper haunts. The North is the bustling and vibrant stronghold of the West Indian and African diaspora communities in Kensington and Chelsea.
I have been to the Notting Hill Carnival every year since I was born. The vibrations of sound systems and smell of jerk chicken are now forever linked to happy days shared with thousands of others on the streets of Portobello. The one moment in summer where everyone shows their love for these streets.
Of course, there have always been the expensive parts of Kensington and Chelsea. Little Paris in South Ken is where you will find the Chelsea mums and Lycée kids jostling into cafes and cooing over croissants.
I have walked the streets, eyes pealed, for the tell-tale blue placards that signal to the passerby that an important former resident once lived there. Dwellers range from radical ‘1984’ author George Orwell, to suffragettes Emmeline and Cristabel Pankhurst, to the infamous painter Francis Bacon; even Bob Marley lived for a stint in Chelsea in the 70s. Venues such as the Royal Albert Hall or areas like Notting Hill and Portobello stand strong in their Bohemian heritage.
If you make it to Goldborne Road, you will still find the diehard locals navigating the dense urban environment at the edges of Kensington and Chelsea. What better place to continue to champion the Arts than here. InTRANSIT Festival will continue to use the wonderful streets, parks, and spaces of Kensington and Chelsea to platform Art and Artists, rediscovering lost spaces. A time for experimentation and collaboration all over the Borough.