In 1999, in a move to revitalize the Notting Hill main road in London, the Notting Hill Improvements Group (NHIG) commissioned artists for on-site interventions. Karam’s first proposal was a series of sculptures to be positioned on the building rooftops along the main street. His protagonists- the Wild Cat, Observers, Wise Man, Running Couple, Gatekeeper, Elephant, Ballerina and Headbanger- were inspired by aspects of local stories.
Proceeding as funding became available, Karam began the project in 2003 with the Running Couple, the Wild Cat and Wise Man on city rooftops. The only sculpture to be placed on street level was the Carnival Elephant, in a yearlong evocation of Notting Hill’s two-day summer carnival. Given a pink wall as backdrop and position on the main street pavement, it was almost entirely transparent, with riotous structural lines and a spinning eye.
The elements connected with each other visually to add new stories to contemporary Notting Hill; its gentrification, its underground music scene, its mixed population, its antique markets and its location as one of Europe’s biggest street carnivals.
Notting Hill Gate, London, UK